Love Is Who’s At The Table

dinner tableMaundy Thursday – Love Is Who’s At The Table

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

April 2, 2015

On this night…

this night before the crucifixion…

We hear what happened this night,

more frequently than any other passage in the Bible.

It begins, “On the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks….”

(Some of you probably have the rest memorized as well!)

But so much more happened this night…

What’s commonly known as the “Words of Institution” could begin any number of ways…

It was also,

On the night he sang a hymn with his disciples…

On the night he washed their feet…

On the night he prayed in the garden and his disciples fell asleep…

On the night he was arrested…

On the night when Peter said he didn’t know him…

On the night in which he told them he was giving them a new commandment

On the night in which he said ‘just as I have loved you, you also should love one another..’

On this night, Jesus shared a meal with his friends.

Meals were an important part of Jesus’ ministry.

He taught during meals.

He told stories about banquets and who was invited to the table.

More than once his miracles were about sharing food.

Often the greatest criticisms people had about Jesus came from people

who didn’t like those with whom he chose to eat.

With his meal practices Jesus challenged social boundaries.

It reminds me of the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” –

that 1967 film where a white couple is surprised when their daughter

invites her African American fiancé home to eat…

challenging social boundaries.

Jesus ate with Zacchaeus the tax collector whom everyone hated because he was a crook.

He ate at the home of Simon the Leper whom everyone was afraid of because…well because he had leprosy!

He invited himself into the homes of women which was shocking,

and even ate in the home of his enemies  – the Pharisees – which was rather courageous when you think about it.

Meals are so much more than the food.

Meals are also about the people with whom the food is shared.

And Jesus shared them with friends and enemies, crooks and outcasts,

people in high places and people who had no place at all.

We can tell a lot about Jesus by who was included at his table.

When Jesus shares this new commandment to love one another as I have loved you,

I think a lot of it is about dinner – sharing this last supper –

and not just symbolically – it’s about who’s going to be at our table for dinner..

the table of our church…

and the table of our homes.

For close to 30 years, Scott Macauley has been inviting strangers to the dinner table.

It began when he was 24 years old, his parents were just divorced, and he realized that he might be alone that Thanksgiving.

He put an article in the local newspaper saying that

“If people thought they might be alone on Thanksgiving,

they could give him a call. Come hang out. Come eat.”[i]

That first year a few people came.

He put another ad in the paper the next year and the next.

Now he prepares a full turkey dinner on Thanksgiving for 70 or so people he’s never met.

His guests include “elderly people, cancer patients, AA members, low-income people, at-risk teens, recently divorced people, widowed people and others —

(all of whom) have one detail in common: Without Macaulay, they’d be alone on Thanksgiving.”[ii]

On the night in which he was betrayed,

Jesus had a meal with his friends…

among those he called friends

were betrayers and deserters…he invited them all to come to the table.

Judas ate too.

Peter ate.

James and John ate.

On the night in which he was betrayed,

Jesus said that we are to do the same…

take bread, take wine, and eat.

When you have such a meal, where everyone is welcome,

where there is a place set for strangers, enemies, outcasts, and friends,

When you eat this way, you eat with me.

I am there in, with, and through the bread and wine you share.

So hear and know this church!

You are welcome to this table.

You are invited to eat here

if you are single, married, divorced, separated, or partnered.

if you are gay or straight,

male or female or transgender.

You are invited to eat here

if you have or had addictions, regrets, or a criminal record,

if you rent or own a home, live with your parents, or are homeless.

You are invited to eat here

if you have cancer, depression, anxiety, ADD, wear glasses or a hearing aid.

You are invited to eat here.

On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus said:

Take and eat.

Take and drink.

You are welcome at the Lord’s supper.

This is how we love one another as we have been loved.

Amen.

 

[i] http://www.today.com/holidayguide/28th-year-man-hosts-thanksgiving-dinner-strangers-2D11663458

[ii] http://www.today.com/holidayguide/28th-year-man-hosts-thanksgiving-dinner-strangers-2D11663458

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