Part 4 of Worship Series: The Meal
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost 15 August 2010
Isaiah 55:1-3 Psalms 145 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17 Luke 22:15-20)
“Here I am…for You!”
In her book, Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows, Kathleen Collins writes that, “…since the first boxy black-and-white TV sets began to appear in American living rooms in the late 1940s, we have been watching people chop, sauté, whisk, flip, pour, arrange and serve food on the small screen.” 1 It’s true! The only difference is that in recent years the screens have become much bigger and the shows live.
Cooking shows are on the front burners. The Food Network is boiling just fine! The Food Channel spares no fat! The faces we see on these cooking shows have become household names! It feels as if we began with Julia Childs! Then we “kicked it up a notch” with Emerel Lagasse! We’ve moved from the Spice Goddess to Barefoot Contessa to Wolfgang Puck to the Iron Chef to Rachel Ray.
Now we’ve finally arrived at Paula Deen, the Southern Belle of any Ball. Someone recently noted to Paula Deen, “Everything you make is so full of butter; it can’t be healthy!” She replied, “Honey, I’m your cook, not your cardiologist!”
In today’s cooking kitchen, no food can be too rich, no cookware can be too sticking resistant, and no chef can be too pampered. My point being that, although some are counting calories, others are watching carbs, still others are looking at fat content, we are all doing a lot of watching what we eat!
Martin Luther and St. Paul and Jesus would be right there with us, especially helping us watch what we consume every time we come to worship!
There are an awful lot of images and stories of eating in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah (Chapter 55) issues God’s invitation to “…come to the waters…come…eat…, eat what is good…come…so you may live.”
In context, this passage is most powerful! In Chapter 53 of Isaiah, we hear of the Suffering Servant, a weary God, a God who is tired; but here in Chapter 55, God is no longer weary…food for the journey is the food which nourishes and strengthens us.
How many stories of meals and eating can we find in the New Testament? Jesus came, eating and drinking, most often with sinners and outcasts. Jesus made a meal for 5000 people out of a few loaves and fish. Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son who returns to a magnificent feast. We hear of the marriage feast at Cana; we hear of the banquet where all the street people are invited. Jesus more than once uses the image of a banquet as a description of heaven!
It is absolutely not surprising that God would choose to come to us in a meal, because it is at the table of Holy Communion where God in Jesus Christ nourishes faith, forgives sins and calls us to be witnesses to the Gospel!
Sometimes congregations get all caught up in the issues of practice such as what kind of bread, and should it be wine or grape juice, at what age can a person first receive, how should we receive, how often should we receive!
What we simply cannot lose sight of in our understanding and living out of this sacrament of God’s love, is God’s action and God’s invitation for us to share in God’s work of creating, redeeming and making holy!
The sacrament of Holy Communion reflects the unity of the Body of Christ and the dignity and new life of all who are baptized.
Paul reminds us that the cup we bless and the bread we break is a sharing in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, we believe, is truly present in this meal we share. Exactly how this happens remains a mystery, although we believe that it is enough for us to hear God’s Word of promise to be with us.
The promise of Christ is spoken to each person coming to receive. The promise is given with the words: “The Body of Christ given for you;” and “The Blood of Christ shed for you.” As his last will and testament, on the final evening before Jesus dies on the Cross, he delivers his legacy in the form of these two promises: “Here I am…for you!”
It is personal! It is intimate! It is a most cherished expression of God’s love offered to each one of us! It is a living event where we receive forgiveness and life and salvation! Such is God’s gift of Christ’s Body and Blood where God nourishes our faith, forgives our sins, and calls us to lives of service and witness. We need this gift often. We need to be nourished frequently!
The Lord’s Supper is truly a meal. In this meal we are reminded that God cares for us in a most human way, by providing food which sustains our bodies. Yet the meal sustains more than our physical bodies. This is a meal for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life; it sustains our spirits. In the bread, we are given the very being of Christ. In the cup, Christ’s life is poured out in blood.
In, with and under bread and wine comes the incredible gift of God’s grace. Some people will say it is too good to be true!
I think of this abundance of God’s love when my two-year-old grandson prays a grace before meals. We usually say: God is great; God is good, let us thank God for our food! Amen!
He loves to say it! He absolutely loves it! He wants to keep saying it. (Last week I think one time we said it 15 times before I finally decided our food was getting cold It’s the first time I ever told someone to stop praying!) I love to watch his fervor and enthusiasm! Sometimes it sounds as if all he is saying is: God…Great…God…Good.
And when I am with him at those times I feel as if I’m experiencing the best theology there is!
God….Great….God….Good….! Maybe that is what best can be said about the Meal of Holy Communion. Amen
1 Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows. Kathleen Collins. 2009.