Phil. 2:5-11 Luke 14:15-24
Dinner. It’s time for dinner. It’s always time for dinner. Yesterday was time for dinner. Today is time for dinner. Tomorrow is time for dinner. The table is always set for the Supper of the Lamb. The wine is always ready to be poured. The meat, the bread, the choice fruits, the banqueting house: always ready.
The table was made ready in the beginning. The wine was made ready in the beginning, and waits even now. The mountain of the Lord of hosts has come to us: the feast of rich food, the feast of well-aged wine, the banquet of word and sacrament has come to us. The mountain of the Lord of hosts is here. The prophet’s vision becomes real here.
[My reflections this evening are more meditation than sermon; more prayer than proclamation.]
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the from of a slave, being born in human likeness…”
He emptied himself. He poured himself out. Paul’s way of talking about the incarnation. He emptied himself, he poured himself out. And he still empties himself, he still pours himself out. And he shall evermore empty himself, pouring himself out.
He empties himself, that we may be full. He pours out his blood, that we may know his abundant life. He is himself the banquet. He is himself the new wine. He is the ancient wine. And the wine of all eternity. He is the wine of yesterday, today and all tomorrows. The wine of now. And all nows. And he empties himself, he pours himself out.
He is the wine. We are the chalice. He is the blood. We are the cup.
A drop, a sip of this wine is the same as an ocean full. It holds all things in existence—all joys, all sorrows, all light, all shade. All things visible and invisible. All yesterdays and whatever was before them. All tomorrows and whatever is beyond them. (To paraphrase St. Augustine.) All yesterdays, all todays, all tomorrows in a single drop.
He is himself this elixir. And he empties himself, pours himself out. We are the cup.
Be empty, be cleansed—that you may be filled. Be thirsty—that you may never thirst again. Be silent—that you may hear his wine coursing through your veins. Listen to the wine making its way into the sinews of your body.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love.” Words of Solomon—or whoever. “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love.” The Song of Songs continues. The inebriation of Love himself.
Many chalices at this banquet, but one wine. Many chalices, always the same wine; always the same little sip of wine. The sip of wine that I take from the cup is the very same sip that you take—and that anyone has ever taken or ever shall. That is, the true wine that is in the sip of wine. The piece of bread that I take to my lips is the same piece of bread that you take. That is, the true bread that is in the piece of bread.
One loaf, one cup, one bread of life, one elixir of love. One God, indivisible. A singularity that cannot be divided or parceled out. A single sip is the whole thing. A morsel of bread is the whole thing. Not a little bit of Jesus here and a little bit of Jesus there, here a little, there a little. No: one sip is all the Blood of Salvation, one morsel is all the Bread of Life. What is poured into me is exactly what is poured into you. He empties himself, not in part, but in his whole, undivided self.
Christ’s emptying of himself into the chalice of our heart is an utterly promiscuous act. If there is such a thing as a Christian ethic, a Christian way of being in the world, of relating to others, it is Christ’s promiscuous self-emptying that is at the core. If Christ is in me and Christ is in you, we have something in common. We are no longer separate. If Christ is in me and in the woman languishing from AIDS on a straw pallet in Africa, we have something in common. We are no longer separated by so many miles—or by race or class or disease. We have something of our essence in common. How can I forget her? And the hungry children at her side: how can I forget them?
The wine poured out into the chalice of our heart connects us to those near and far. To all things visible and invisible. To all joys and all sorrows. All light, all shade. All wholeness, all brokenness.
Be empty, be cleansed. That you may be filled. Be thirsty. That you may never thirst again. We are called to his supper; we gather to receive the Lamb and to praise him. And to eat and to drink and to be filled. He is the wine; we are the chalice.
He waits to empty himself, to pour himself out again. May we be worthy to receive him. Praise him.
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