Sermon: Mass of the Lord's Supper, Year C

Mass of the Lord’s Supper – What a Friend I’ve Found (Martin Smith)

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

The Mass is the most intimate acts of faith, a drawing in, a pulling together, a communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ. It has been preceded by a washing of feet, an intimate act which makes many in our modern society uncomfortable: good. Christ comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comforted, and if you were embarrassed by Mother Margaret touching you, and even horror of horrors, kissing your newly washed feet, then you will have an inkling of how the disciples felt when their Lord and Master, their Teacher, their Messiah took on the role of the lowest slave in the household to cleanse your tired, dusty feet.

As we gather around this holy table, to feed on him, those gentle words of Martin Smith in “What a friend I’ve found” echo that sense of intimacy and connection that can only comes from that sharing of not only a meal, but in the Mass itself by feeding on him directly as is present here in bread and wine.

What drew me to this song was firstly that sense of intimacy in its tone and style, and also in the lines which for many are its most challenging, because it strays into our own vulnerability and even our sexuality:

“I have known your touch, more intimate than a lover”

That Christ reaches into us this very night goes beyond the superficial and into the very depths of our souls: this is why the pain of separation should be keenly felt at our Gethsemene experience – the Watch of the Blesséd Sacrament and the poignant simplicity of the Stripping of the Altars.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Friend Forever…”

And yet, profess that as powerfully as Peter as we may, we know that we too have the capacity for denial, for rejection of that friendship. There is a little of Peter in each and every one of us.

And as Jesus was the forgiver of Peter, so will he reach back out to us. Our eternal friendship and intimacy is not conditional on us, the weaker part of the relationship, but on Jesus: our true friend, the lover of our souls as the Wesley hymn puts it.

In this intimate moment, laid on the breast of Jesus as the beloved disciple was, sharing in not only a meal of hospitality but in Christ himself, in this place we have true acceptance, true intimacy, true friendship.

Your friend bids you come and dine with him.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Friend Forever…”