What’s the deal with our meals, anyways? I think we make them overly complicated for the most part. We spend a lot of time messing with fat, carbs and calories when we really don’t need to. Modern science has long had a drink that meets all our nutrition needs. A couple of drinks per day and our exact metabolic needs are met with scientific precision.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/261690-the-first-supper.mp3]
Please note, as always the audio varies somewhat from the written text since I write a manuscript but then use it as an outline during the actual preaching.
Think of all the advantages to that. No more meal planning or sorting out what is in the cabinet and fridge to come up with something edible. No more cooking needed. No more trips to the grocery store since you can buy this nutrition drink on Amazon and have it shipped to your house. Kitchens can be smaller or have a lot more space because you could get rid of the stove, microwave and have a much smaller refrigerator. These nutrition drinks really do have a lot of advantages. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
And yet, in spite of all the clear advantages, we don’t use these scientifically engineered nutrition drinks. Instead, we spend a lot of time plotting out and cooking meals in an attempt to have what we eat bear some semblance of nutritional value.
Why is that? There must be some kind of reason, right?
We could simply rely on some version of nutritional drink to provide for our physical needs but we don’t. We would not be satisfied. It may keep us alive but will not fulfill our deepest need. So it goes with our physical well being, so it also goes with our spiritual well being.
That’s where communion comes in. Communion is the time that we encounter the risen Christ. It isn’t the only time but it is a specific time.
We can make any number of choices to fill our spiritual needs but they may not be exactly satisfying. We can attempt all kinds of spiritual practices. Some are helpful in their own right but in and of themselves are not a time we encounter Christ. Yoga is a good example of this. I think yoga is good stuff and I may encounter Christ in the midst of yoga. But that isn’t the purpose of yoga. Some people have put great value in crystals having spiritual value. I’m not so certain crystals are a good thing. Good or bad, they don’t fulfill that deep need, that deep long.
Communion does. Gathered as a community of faith in the presence of Jesus, just as the disciples were gathered as a community of faith in the presence of Jesus, we share a meal. Communion. In community. And in our encounter with Christ, we are filled.
Did you notice the order of things in the text? Jesus knows that someone is going to betray him. Jesus knows that one of the disciples sitting at the table with him is going to betray him. Jesus knows which one of the disciples sitting at the table with him is going to betray him.
And then they break bread and have wine together. They celebrate the festival meal for Passover together. In communion.
Let’s try this. Look at the person down the row 3 or for people or across the aisle. It should be someone that you shook hands with in our greeting time. Now, that person is going to be the reason you are put in jail and interrogated tonight and then killed tomorrow. Knowing that, could you sit at the supper table and share a meal with them? Knowing that, could you come to the Lord’s table and share THE meal with them? I suspect most of us would struggle with this and yet that is exactly what Jesus did.
That Jesus would intentionally sit down for a meal with Judas, his betrayer is something of a challenge for us. It is also an example for us though perhaps not an example we would jump at. That whole breaking bread and drinking wine with someone like Judas doesn’t sound very attractive, does it? If it was good enough for Jesus I guess it is where I should go. Will you go there, too?
That’s kind of the purpose of sharing the Peace in worship. It is a time to get our heads and hearts around the idea that we are supposed to be reconciled in Christ with those around us. Maybe you don’t have any issues with those around you tonight but almost all of us have someone we should be reconciled with. As we share the Peace in a little bit, give some thought to that. Reconciling with anyone around you and with anyone else you need to be at peace with.
Reconciling with others and reconciling with God as we come into Christ’s presence. Good thing Jesus and the disciples sitting down, breaking bread and drinking wine in an act of extraordinary reconciliation wasn’t the Last Supper, but the First. As they share this meal the time is growing dark and will grow much darker. But that won’t be the end of the story and it won’t be the last time that Christ joins his followers in this holy meal.