Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thought for Maundy Thursday

You are what you eat. We have heard that all of our lives.
You eat junk, you are junk-y. You eat healthy, you are healthy.
"Let food be your medicine," said Hippocrates.
But every week, we come to this table with the invitation of Jesus himself. "Take, eat, this is my body broken for you." "Take, drink, this cup is the blood of the new covenant shed for you."
These words are horrifying to some.
Drastic metaphor to others.
Many accused the early church of cannibalism from a literal hearing over these phrases. From the Jewish and middle-eastern perspectives, nothing could be more anathema. In the blood is life. You never consume the blood, and Jesus knew this. He knew this and yet he intentionally said this, going smack up against the cultural, social and biblical understanding of those who followed him.
His words are many things, but they are not simple, nor can the be ignored.
We come on this night, to this table, remembering Jesus. This Jesus we claim was God in the Flesh. This Jesus we claim to take away all the things in us we wish never were, those things we hide so deep down we want to deny their very existence. This Jesus who took off his garment, wrapped himself in a towel and cleaned the feet of those who were his followers, the learners and future leaders of his way of connecting to God.
You see, when we come to this table, we say we are taking him, his way of living, and thinking, and yes, even being, into ourselves. If we are what we eat, when we come to this table we come not just to receive, but to become. We are being converted bit by bit as we work out our faith with fear and trembling.
And remember what we are taking in. Jesus, who humbled himself and took on the role of a servant. "Do you know what I have done for you?" he asked of them and us. As he kneels before us and removes the gunk and grime of our lives so we can continue to walk in his way, do we take this in, too? You are what you eat. And we come this night and every week, consuming all that Jesus is and taking on all that we can be in him.

We also come to this table knowing the rest of the story. On that Last Supper night, those around him did not know the rest of the story. When we hear him say "This is my body," we see in our minds his broken body on the cross. When we hear him say, "This is the blood of a New Covenant," we see his blood flowing down. In light of what was to come, this night, this table, this bread and wine become all the more weighted with meaning. We are what we eat. We take on that night as well as the next day.
As we come to this table, all are welcome. All are welcome to take him in. All are welcome to become.
And at this table, Jesus takes what is there, the simplest of things. Things that would have been at almost every meal that they had ever eaten. When I went to Cuba, we had rice and beans two out of three meals. When I lived in Germany, Brötchen, little crusty rolls,  were there most of the time. In Jesus day as in most of the West, Bread was the sustenance of life. Wine was something safe to drink in a land of questionable water. On every table these would have been present. He did not send his disciples out for something special, like caviar and champagne. He did not send them out for sushi and Sake(SAK-ee). He took what was there at hand and used it. Thank goodness, because that means he can use us, too.
We are here and like he transformed the elements at hand, he can transform us, too. He can take us if we are too raised or if we have fallen flat. He can take us if we are too sweet or if we have turned sour. He takes us as we are and makes us into his hands and feet in this world that needs his life-giving and life-changing message still. Margaret Mead called for social change saying, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." But she had nothing up on Jesus, as he looked around that table and commissioned his faithful band of misfits and rejects to whom he was entrusting the life-giving treasure of the world, his Gospel. And because they took his message and his example we are here tonight, bathing each others' feet becoming servants like him and coming to this table in remembrance of him. Thanks be to God.

We are what we eat. Will we be what we eat this night? Amen.

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Blessings, Rock