December 18, 2017

Pentecost Sunday with Henri Nouwen: May 15, 2016

Solemnity of Pentecost 2012. Photo by Saint Joseph

Solemnity of Pentecost 2012. Photo by Saint Joseph

Pentecost Sunday with Henri Nouwen
On the Eucharistic Life

This is Pentecost Sunday, and today we conclude our series of reflections on his book, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life.

• • •

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

• Luke 24:33-35

Pentecost marks the end of a wondrous, mysterious season (Eastertide) and the beginning of a new one. Jesus has risen, appeared, and ascended. Today he sends the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us as we are sent into the world to proclaim the good news of the reigning Christ. This transformation and this sending are portrayed in the story of the two Emmaus disciples.

What a difference between their “going home” and their return. It is the difference between doubt and faith, despair and hope, fear and love. It is the difference between two dispirited human beings dragging themselves along the road and two friends walking fast, running even at times, all excited about the news they have for their friends.

…The Eucharist concludes with a mission. “Go now and tell!” The Latin words “Ite Missa est,” with which the priest used to conclude the Mass, literally mean: “Go, this is your mission.” (p. 80f)

Henri Nouwen reminds us in this final chapter that it is not just the Eucharist but the Eucharistic life that ultimately matters. In our Lutheran congregation, after communion we pray:

O God, we give you thanks that you have set before us this feast, the body and blood of your Son. By your Spirit strengthen us to serve all in need and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And so we eat and drink at the Lord’s Table not merely for our own satisfaction, but for the strength to provide the Bread of Life to others in days to come.

Forming a community with family and friends, building a body of love, shaping a new people of the resurrection: all of this is not just so that we can live a life protected from the dark forces that dominate our world; it is, rather, to enable us to proclaim together to all people, young and old, white and black, poor and rich, that death does not have the last word, that hope is real and God is alive.

The Eucharist is always mission. The Eucharist has freed us from our paralyzing sense of loss and revealed to us that the Spirit of Jesus lives within us and empowers us to go out into the world and to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, liberty to the captives, and to proclaim that God has shown again his favor to all people. But we are not sent out alone; we are sent with our brothers and sisters who also know that Jesus lives within them.

The movement flowing from the Eucharist is the movement from communion to community to ministry.

• p. 86f

Photo by Saint Joseph at Flickr. Creative Commons License

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    Cat sleeps near nightlight,
    curled in ball, nose into haunch-
    a little warmer.

    • Please tell us how your poem explains or illustrates Henri Nouwen’s teaching on the eucharistic life.

      • Danielle says:

        BTDT, you are cheating: the poem authors have already done their bit by poem-writing. Interpretation is your job. 🙂

        • My point, which I apparently didn’t make clear, is that the cat poem doesn’t seem (to me at least) to have anything to do with Nouwen’s words. I cannot see that Robert’s haiku has anything whatever to do with Christ’s being made known in the breaking of the bread, or that death does not have the last work, or that hope is real and God is alive.

          I’m serious. Also a former English major. If it’s symbolic, it’s a little too opaque.

  2. Danielle says:

    “The Eucharist has freed us from our paralyzing sense of loss and revealed to us that the Spirit of Jesus lives within us …. The movement flowing from the Eucharist is the movement from communion to community to ministry.”

    The word movement is burning itself into my mind this morning. Maybe its because I’ve been gardening, which is always a good reminder that life is an organic thing, fragile and vital, that moves and cannot help but do so.

    We habitually think of the phenomenon we experience as separate moments. When we try to see them clearly by way of analyzing them, we want to break them out like they are component parts to a machine, open to examination and reassembly. But it is all one movement, one grace. Already present, and already both behind us and in front of us.

    • Danielle says:

      “It is the difference between doubt and faith, despair and hope, fear and love.”

      Sometimes, to me, even these begin to look like the same thing.

  3. When I let the Holy Spirit live in me from my doubt, my faith grows; from my despair, hope is born; and in my fear, God’s unending love fills me. They are the same movement and need each other for God’s beautiful garden to grow and bear much fruit, so that the harvest will be plentiful. Thank you for this insight Danielle.

  4. Ronald Avra says:

    “And so we eat and drink at the Lord’s Table not merely for our own satisfaction, but for the strength to provide the Bread of Life to others in days to come.” May the God of the whole earth grant grace to these vessels of clay, as we bear the Spirit of His Son, so that we may faithfully carry Him into our world. In Jesus Name, Amen.

  5. My Sunday School lesson today is about being a witness to the world. This post today will marinate in my mind and add a different aspect to my lesson. Nice timing…

  6. Robert F says:

    Today we had a Confirmation at church. The pastor guided the confirmand (a boy of about 12) and congregation through the Confirmation ritual, in which prayers were said, the Apostles’ Creed was affirmed, a Bible was presented, and blessings were given.

    At the conclusion of the ritual, the pastor told us that during the week, a classmate of the confirmand had taken his own life. He then led us in prayer for the victim, his family, friends and classmates, and finished this way: “Lord, we know that in your love you have already accepted;” (here he said the deceased boy’s name) “we pray that you would also help us to know that you love and accept us, and that you would help us all to cope with this tragedy, though we cannot understand it, and to go forward and live in hope despite it…”

    We then went on to celebrate and share in the Holy Eucharist.

    Thank you, Lord, for your love and acceptance, love and acceptance that we need not succeed at anything to receive, love and acceptance which no failure of ours can close us off from. Thank you for loving us first, and always, and without ceasing. Amen.

    • Danielle says:

      Amen, R. Making this my prayer tonight. And praying for the boy and his family.

  7. Robert F says:

    High in the treetops,
    branches shake in cold morning
    wind, swept up in light.

  8. That Other Jean says:

    Deep in the branches,
    from a chilly morning perch,
    birdsong welcomes day.

  9. Burro [Mule] says:

    In the bright harbor,
    The evening wind fills the sails.
    Boats return to shore.

  10. These are all lovely, but I simply don’t get the connection to today’s post. Help me inderstand. Why are we posting haiku on internetmonk?….

    • >>Why are we posting haiku on internetmonk?….

      Uh, maybe for the same reason as photos by CM and David Cornwall are published, to show that we appreciate and encourage artistic excellence within the family? Maybe because we can? Maybe because they provide a bright spot in the day for people like me? I’ll grant you that it is not very nose to the grindstone.

      • Not to beat a dad horse, but I would disagree that photos by CM and David Cornwall are published to show that we appreciate and encourage artistic excellence within the family or that they provide a bright spot for people like you, Charles. They are published — correct me if I’m wrong, CM — because they have at least some tangential connection to words in the post. That’s what I think is missing with the haikus in the comments even though in themselves they are lovely.

    • Robert F says:

      I’m afraid the presence of the haiku is my responsibility. I started posting them some time ago, and others have followed in the trail I blazed. Quite often mine have little to nothing to do with the posted article, so I can see your point and objection. I’m not sure that means I’ll stop, unless I see more resistance to them in the comments or from CM.

      • Robert, please don’t stop or even think about it, tho I know that will now be impossible. This was an isolated case of cluelessness and I was hoping you would miss it. If it was the general reaction here I would be long gone. The next time one of your gems surfaces, please remember that I am waiting for it. As far as I’m concerned, any art work submitted should go up on the refrigerator. Doesn’t mean it should all end up in a book and anyway that is irrelevant. Please stay open. That goes for Bill as well and everyone else.

        • Danielle says:

          +1

          It makes me happy to see poems everyone has been posting to IM. Plus, directly relevant or not, they add a soulfulness to the conversation.

          I hope everyone keeps it up.