There are over 2000 cookbooks published every year in US alone, and even more worldwide. Food and cooking shows are all over the TV. No longer are chefs hidden in the shadows of the kitchen, they are front and centre stage. The meal is a big deal!
They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
At Holy Communion we join together as a family to share a meal that shapes and forms our daily lives. Every week we are reminded of the powerful gospel – that God, our Father in heaven, sent Jesus Christ, his only Son to live as a man, die on a cross and be raised to life again so that we can have a relationship with God, based on Jesus’ righteousness, not our own.
As we prepare for communion we hear those powerful words: ‘on the night that Jesus was betrayed ….”. Why does this matter? Because at the night of the Last Supper, where Jesus taught us about communion he was joined by his disciples – those who would betray him, deny him, abandon him. We are reminded that the table is where all sinners are welcome. We are in good company.
God’s grace is shown at the table.
In yourself you are not worthy BUT through Jesus we are welcome.
The Sacraments – we can often shy away from these words, assuming that they are outdated, not relevant or are the sole property of another denomination. However, God has gifted us the sacraments of bread and wine. These are something normal that has been set apart, blessed by God to carry and expand God’s presence and grace to us. The bread is bread when we receive it and when we eat it. However, it also is physical, tangible and visible reminder for us.-
Both And not Either Or.
Our Christian life is full of paradoxes – we often want to have either, or. Either I do this or I do that. But God is usually Both, And. God is three in one, and also one. Jesus is fully man and fully God. Jesus is truth and grace. We are a saint and a sinner. The table reminds us of this. That we are saved and also are in a process of being saved.
How do you know you believe?
It is easy to say ‘ just believe in your heart’, however it is often difficult to know whether or not you do believe, or do you believe enough? Through the act of going up every week to receive the bread and the wine, to taste and touch them, to physically hold out your empty hands and have them filled – this is how you can know that you believe. Faith acts.
In the desert, after they had escaped from Egypt, the Israelites were kept alive by manna, provided daily by God. The word manna means ‘what’s that?’ – it was a free gift from God, given to his children because they needed it. This daily gift couldn’t be earned or stored up – it was God’s provision for his children. Furthermore, it tasted like honey. The Promised Land that the Israelites were hoping to reach was a land of milk and honey. In this daily manna, provided by God, they had a taste of their future ahead. Similarly, in communion we taste of our future with God.
1 Timothy 4:4
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
We don’t worship the communion, or make it into something that it is not. Whatever you try to make your saviour will crush you. The only thing that can save you is Jesus. At the communion table we are reminded that it is not about what we bring, but about what Jesus has done for us. We come forward to receive with empty hands and are freely given bread and wine. This gesture is a reminder of God’s grace, extended to us whilst we are still sinners. It is this grace that reminds us and helps us to be redirected towards worshipping the Creator, not the creation.
In the safety of a Sunday service we experience this communal meal together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, diverse but not divided. The meal creates and sustains community. This should overflow out of a Sunday and into our weekly, daily lives together. Our church family meeting together to share food and life, inviting our friends, neighbours and wider connections into our homes and lives.
Just as Jesus invited people to join him at the table, so we invite others to join us. Never because of what they can bring. Always, because of what God has done.
The meal is a big deal.