We heard a single word when we heard a lot of words in that long gospel reading. But there is one word that stuck out to me because I did a little research on it this week and it's the word synagogue.
The word synagogue means literally to come together, to gather together, to assemble together. It's also used not just as a title for a house of worship but it's used as a verb and Jesus used it as a verb—or at least the Greek text of the New Testament has Jesus saying this word—in a very important and famous saying of Jesus that is very pertinent to us at this moment.
Jesus told us that where two or three are gathered together—where two or three are synagogued in my name—I will be in the midst of them. This is our synagogue this morning, in this room and over the Internet, and Jesus is in the midst of it. To put it a little bit more colloquially, a little bit more down-home southern, what Jesus was saying is when two or three of you gather to be with me I will be smack dab in the middle of you so whether we are together virtually or together in the same room we are gathered together in our Lord's name and he is in our midst.
Now it's a little peculiar to celebrate a sacrament, particularly the Eucharist, over the internet. But this is not the first time, believe it or not, that people have thought about how can you partake in communion when you are not present. I came across a quote on the internet that I want to read to you. It turns out that St. Augustine of Hippo in the fourth century wrote about people being unable to receive the Eucharist even though they did deeply desire to do so.
Bishop Mark Andres of the Diocese of California has written this what Augustine said was this:
The Christian who desires to partake of the body and blood of Christ will always be met by a gracious and loving God. Though we may not be able to receive the bread and wine, nothing can prevent our all-loving God from giving us what we ask for from our hearts.
We will, as Augustine said, truly commune spiritually so whether you're physically taking the body and blood of Christ with us this morning or whether you were virtually sharing with us we are still synagogue with Jesus right smack dab in the middle of us and we are receiving his body and blood spiritually even though we may not be receiving it physically.