All in the mind

John 6:51-58

StMarksThere have been studies done about visualising situations such as in a college where the basketball team was split in two for a week. All the players went about training as usual but half, unbeknown to the others also were told to visualise themselves in the upcoming game. To see in their minds them defending the actual players they would stand and to “see themselves” throwing goals and collecting rebounds and come game day, the results clearly showed that the players who had seen the game in their head all week seemed clearly more prepared and in tune when the game was underway in both carrying out what they had imagined but also in adapting to unforeseen situations as they occurred.

Today we will receive Holy Communion. To share a meal together to which Charles Wesley remarked:  “The Lord’s Supper is the richest legacy which Christ has left for His followers.”

The Sacrament of the Altar that not only points to the cross of Christ as our enduring and unsurpassed source of salvation and as our storehouse of grace. But the Sacrament of the Alter of where our Saviour brings his cross to our altar so that we can receive HIs benefits in a tangible, visible way in the here and now.

Today, in the Body and blood of our Savior Jesus, not only is He present, not only do we receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, but today as we receive our Saviors body and blood we kneel or stand before Him in the blessings of his first coming, as to we most assuredly stand before Him celebrating being renewed to live today and celebrating eternal life as we anticipate the joy of his second coming.

In Holy Communion we do not see Jesus as a distant leader or director, but receive and know Him as our ever-present help in times of trouble and if we could actually see what in faith we try and comprehend I don’t think our views on troubles and hardships would ever be the same.

To visualise what’s going on in trust and belief and in wisdom as that of a child.

Because Jesus says we are to have childlike faith, and I think we know where he’s coming from. When we were children, Jesus was so uncomplicated. He said I love you, bring you forgiveness and you’ll go to heaven. Jesus said it, so it was so; it was just in there inside us and onto doing kid’s stuff we would go.

Then for want of a better word we grow up. Learn to think logically and question things, question perceived truths. Get beaten around the head with life’s responsibilities, struggles and hardships. Given the gift of greater intelligence, to be able to think deeply of how things work, or how they should work and yet with all this knowledge, power and experiences-Jesus says we are to have child-like faith.

When young, if told that’s a chair, well it’s a chair-now I might first consider that it actually may be a stool.

Two weeks ago we heard the Jews ask Jesus: What is it that we must do, to do the work of God? And Jesus replies to believe in the one He has sent. Is that it, or did he mean something else.

And in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, they will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world”.

You can see where this is heading. No wonder the Jews had trouble understanding and believing what Jesus said. The stuff Jesus said, the gospel is foreign to how we are cast. Logically, these statements of Jesus are illogical. A pastor told me that when in your Parish; don’t get down on yourself with all the empty seats-because it’s a miracle that any one believes at all.

And through logic, or how we think it should work, he’s right, and right there we see that what Jesus said has to be case, everyone that does believe, has childlike faith, because otherwise you could not believe.

Trust, belief and wisdom. To trust and believe in what Jesus says, and the wisdom to do so, even though from within us it would seem the opposite. When as a child, Jesus says-so no questions needed. As an adult-Jesus says-and we question how that possibly could be-but believe anyway. That’s childlike faith-to override what we would think with what we are told by Jesus.

I was baptized as an adult-did I feel any different afterwards-I don’t think so. Baptizing our infants, do we literally see a hallo form-I haven’t yet. Studying at the sem. and being ordained, do I feel like some kind of saint-not likely-I think I did more so before I went in. And that is the Gospel.

It would be nice to self-reference our spirituality, of what’s going on in our hearts-of feeling our growth within ourselves. Indeed it would be very nice, but not so comforting the next day when we see our heart just as black again as the day before. And that is the Gospel. It is not how we feel-it’s what Christ promises and what he does.

In Holy Communion-Jesus says I give you my body and blood-for eternal life, yes, but also to work inside you-We believe that, even though in our inner selves we find it hard to see much progress, if any.

That is the Gospel. It is not from us, it’s from outside. The Word of God, Baptism and Holy Communion-Our Lord and Savior brings them to us, just like God sent His Son to us. He didn’t just flick a magic switch to fix up our mess-he sent His Son down to us-to grow in us from outside in-transforming us.

In Christ, we are transformed into the holy and righteous. Do you feel very holy and righteous? Maybe not, and if not, welcome to being normal. But in faith, though our hearts and minds may be at times like black coal-that when all the logic and facts of our sinful selves are stacked against, when we know that we are beyond help within ourselves, that in ourselves we are lost-yet cling to Christ, not just as our only hope of acceptance by the Father, but take it as a fact that we are accepted by the Father-that’s faith, faith in the truth. Thank God for the trust and belief he has worked in us, and the wisdom he has brought to us of childlike saving faith. Amen.