Sacred Meals

SACRED MEALS – SPACE AT THE TABLE – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

For most of us, the dinner table serves as the center of the gathering space in our homes or family gatherings. Being welcomed at the table is like when someone knows your name, your struggle, your pain, and is willing to pray for you, care for you, love you, make space for you. We can see that this space at the table is like what God does for us, he sets us apart, he calls us his own, making us holy. It’s not about us, it’s about him, it’s about what he does for us. So, when we make space at the table, we consecrate it, we set it apart, we act with intention, we lean in.

The meals we share at these tables are just as important. Often we just see the routine of sitting and eating, but something significant happens when we discover that what we are doing is sacred. A sacred space. A time to commune, a time to fellowship, a time for reflection, a time for gratitude, a time to celebrate, a time to mourn. Meals have a unique way of creating space in our lives and are sacred events. And as we approach the table, to find if there is space for us there, we start with a story. In the book of beginnings, we discover things about ourselves and God. We discover the sacredness of meals. We learn that God is sacred, holy, good. We discover that his intent is to make us, his creation, and everything he touches sacred, holy, and good. We don’t have to read very far to see that our need for food is sacred as is our need for companionship with each other. And these sacred meals, they represent the full dynamic tension of our lives, full of ups and downs, joy and sadness, betrayals and reconciliations.

Jesus resists the religious rulers in the same way he resists the Empire, by subverting it and revealing the truth about God. Jesus reveals exactly who God is to us: God is sacred, holy, and good. God isn’t corrupted by us. He isn’t stained by our brokenness, our sin. Instead, God heals us, he restores us, he renews us. This is the God who rescues us. You and I are welcomed at this table. This is the table of redemption. But we can’t approach it if we don’t believe we need forgiveness, healing, restoration, mercy, grace. That’s what’s available at this table–the table of redemption–if you don’t need these things, then you won’t come to it. But you are welcome.

This is the meal where all the drama of the story, the long and winding love story of God and humanity, expressed on this good earth, under his good rule reaches its climax. Just as God acted in times of old and rescued his people, he’s doing it again. He’s come personally this time to rescue the creation from the powers: sin, death, and evil. This is the enactment of the dramatic story with struggle, suffering, betrayal, and faithful wrestling with each other for our soul–this is where it comes in concentrated form: his body broken for us, his blood poured out for us… this is the real presence of God, in Jesus, here with us, really here, found at this table, the table of redemption.

Here’s our invitation today, come to this table, eat this bread, drink this cup. When we come to the table and partake, we join in the new world order that Jesus establishes in his resurrection, we join a new family. When we come to the table, we identify with him, we accept and receive his act of obedience, his profound act of selfless love, which becomes our pathway to freedom. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we acknowledge that we need to, we acknowledge that we are held in bondage, and this is our pathway to freedom. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we surrender ourselves to this King of Glory, we consent to his Lordship. When we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we receive his love poured out for us. This is no mere ritual or rite without meaning. No, it’s full of meaning, purpose, significance. This is a sacred meal, and we are welcomed, not because we are worthy, holy, to righteous, but because he made a way for us. He makes us holy, worthy, and righteous. He calls us friends, no longer are we the enemies of God. We have been welcomed, space has been made for us.

We do this to remind us of our need for redemption, forgiveness, mercy, grace, space, healing. We are enacting this sacred meal over and over again because we need to until we reach its fulfillment in the most important meal in all of scripture, the wedding feast of the lamb. Where we will finally be free, every tear wiped away, all of our pain and suffering banished, every nation, every tribe, every tongue, reconciled, restored, healed. That’s what we celebrate when we find space at this table — it’s the hope of the restoration of all things. Finally the King, home once again, among his good creation.

EAT THIS BREAD. DRINK THIS CUP.

Today, we ponder the meaning of sharing in the one loaf and the one cup which Jesus established the night before his death for us on the cross. You might take a few moments today to consider what it means for you personally to be invited to share a meal with Jesus. What would it be like to sit across a table from Jesus at a nice (or maybe simple) restaurant? How do you make sense of the cross and its brutality? What about the resurrection? Does one override the other for you? Or can you consider both at the same time? What might Jesus be inviting you to be or do while you consider this?

Can you imagine others at the table? Are their people who you sorely wish were there with you? Those who you can’t imagine being there? What is happening in your relationship with Jesus as you consider these people? How is Jesus being towards them (and you)?

Finally, you might consider how your approach to meals during the week re-enforces (or not) your understanding of communion for yourself and others. In particular, are there small changes in your routine which could help remind you of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the great banquet to come in when heaven and earth are fully joined? If so, try to implement one of these changes over the next few days.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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