In pm's words
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April 13, 2017, 12:00 AM

the one about a meal and a command...


Sermon from Maundy Thursday
April 13, 2017

Text: John 13: 1-17, 31b-35

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer – amen.

So, as people we like to eat, don’t we? If you think of the celebrations we get to participate in – most, if not all of them – are centered around a meal. We have the yearly celebrations like birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas dinners, the Fourth of July and anniversaries. We have the not quite so frequent celebrations of family reunions, weddings, and even funerals. But, when you think about it a little more, we celebrate with meals all the time. It’s a treat to eat with your family. Especially when you don’t get to see them very often. Whenever you invite friends over for fellowship (or in turn are invited over to another’s home) normally a meal is involved.

We share in our conversation, our laughter, our love. We have a meal together – whether it be a home cooked meal or even a bite to eat at a local restaurant – because we want to eat with one another. Sharing food with another person brings equality, honor, and respect to all involved. It is a way that we show our love and care for those around us.

Though, it isn’t just meeting with friends and family either that we celebrate with a meal. When I meet with colleagues, we gather for a meeting and then go out to eat for further discussion and fellowship. Maybe a co-worker is moving on to another job or is retiring – so, we celebrate and eat. Each and every visit I get to partake in I’m always offered a bite to eat and even a refreshing drink. Sometimes the conversation and celebration in our ‘breaking of bread’ is so jubilant that we forget why we gathered in the first place. For those that work in vocations that require meeting with clients; how often do you meet over a meal? My guess is more often than not.

You can usually tell how close you are to another individual or group of individuals based on whether or not you will eat with them or if others will eat with you. When you’re able to sit down and share a meal together, it brings an intimacy and closeness to that relationship. I’ve known plenty of people that were ‘kind’ to someone, but would refuse to ‘break bread’ with that person or group based off of a past discrepancy or issue. I’m sure many of you have seen or experienced similar situations in your lives.

Eating and sharing a meal is incredibly important, intimate, and special for us as a part of humanity. This relationship between people and food was not lost on God nor God’s son…

We come to Maundy Thursday – the first day of the Holy Three Days – and we observe Jesus sharing a meal with his closest friends. A meal that is incredibly familiar to them as they observed the Passover, but yet Jesus does something in this meal to set it apart from the normal observance of Passover.

In this meal of love and remembrance, Jesus adds a little more. He stoops down to wash the feet of his friends. There is probably nothing more humbling for a leader to grab hold of the feet of his followers and wash and dry them. Jesus sets this meal a part by showing them the lengths of his love and service for and with them. Later on, he invites them further into this sort of love and in turn invites each and every one of us into that kind of love as well. All within this meal.

This is a meal that links Jesus’ disciples intimately with their ancestors, yet also joins them to those who will come after them (you know – us). This meal that we share every Sunday does the same for us as well. In this meal, we are joined with those who have come before us – with the millions who celebrate with us – and with those who will come after us. It is amazing to realize how big this meal actually is. This is a meal that sends us out to be humble in service among all our neighbors. Filling us with our Lord to serve out of love in ways that others would not expect.

This happens all because Jesus says he is present in this meal. He is present in this bread and in this wine. We as Lutherans look to this meal and we can confidently say that Jesus is indeed present in, with, and under the bread and the wine. Jesus is so present in this meal that it is like his body and blood.

This is a meal that we are blessed to receive and in which we get to participate in as often as we can. It doesn’t diminish the ‘goodness’ of this meal the more we partake in it. In fact, in my opinion – the more we partake in this meal the more we get to realize how special this meal is. This is Jesus sharing himself with us in one of the most intimate and close ways we can as humans. In the sharing of himself, we are called to share ourselves – filled with him – with all those around us.

At the end of this meal, after Jesus has shown his disciples what love and service is; he gives a new commandment to his disciples – a commandment of love. Just as he loved them, they are called to love one another – and love others as well.

Jesus shares his love for us by being present in this meal – as Paul tells us in our text from First Corinthians – and as Jesus himself states in our other Gospels. We share that love with one another by eating this meal together and being sent from this table to love and serve the Lord and those before us. Coming to this table and each taking in the body and blood of our Lord – the real presence of Christ within the bread and wine – together. Bringing us each to an equal level. Knowing that no matter where we are in the ‘social status’ of life that the world has lodged us in – we are equals at this table. We all share in this meal offered to us by our Lord.

In this meal, we know that we are forgiven. What a wonderful opportunity this evening to remember that even more fully as we approach the season of Easter. For Jesus shared this meal with his fellow friends – knowing full well that they would all desert and run away from him during his time of suffering, crucifixion, and death. Yet, in that knowledge – Jesus shares a meal with them reiterating time and time again that this is a meal for you.

That in this meal we are gifted the presence and grace of God. It is in this meal that we know that we are forgiven because Christ is there with us. Jesus is again extending to us that new commandment of love by sharing this meal with us. Sending us out to be servants of those before us. Loving and serving others in unexpected and beautiful ways. Inviting and calling us to bring others to this meal because it is in the sharing of a meal that we can extend love towards one another.

Where we all can gather around this table and live out that love – knowing that Christ comes to each of us as we gather here. Christ comes to each of us as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup. Where Christ sends each and every one of us out into the world – filled with his presence in this meal – to love and serve those around us.

To know, believe, and live into the promise that despite what we have done, what we fail to do, and how we stubbornly stand in opposition at times to God’s love for the world that this meal is continually and freely offered to us. We come to this table as forgiven children of God. Filled with the life and love of our Lord to live out that love and promise to all.

Every time we celebrate and partake in this meal – we are being filled with Christ’s command to go and love because in this meal we know that we are loved. That this is a meal for us. That in this meal we know we are forgiven.

In this meal, we know that Christ is present – in, with, and under the bread and the wine. Yes, it is bread and it is wine. But, it is also Jesus. Broken and poured out for us – out of love and grace. Where we too are called to share this meal and this love with those around us.

By that love – they will know that we are followers of Christ. Our Lord shares a meal with us out of love. We are called to share a meal – out of and in love – with all around us. Amen.

 

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