Narrative Lectionary for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year Three
August 27, 2017
Lessons: Psalm 65; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people gather at Christ’s table to be fed so that we in turn may feed others and invite them to the table.
Key Scripture: Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple. Psalm 65:4
This week we turn our attention to the Sacrament of Holy Communion and how we gather at Christ’s table to be fed so that we may be sent to feed others. This holy meal, at which we are nourished with a bit of bread and a sip of wine is both simple and lavish, concrete and mystery,
We remember that it is Christ’s table, and we are all invited and beloved guests at this feast. Whether we gather in the largest cathedral or around a simple stone altar at a church camp outdoor worship space, we are bound with believers across time and space and unbound by the confines of time and place. In this meal we encounter the wholly holy in ordinary everyday elements, and we do so in the company of everyday saints and sinners, beggars and believers, the imperfect beloved on the perfect One.
The two lessons that guide our preaching and teaching are a combination of praise and admonition, an unlikely but familiar combination. The psalmist’s lavish praise points to the joys of being gathered into God’s presence and place. There is great happiness and satisfaction in God’s gracious provision, and the writer celebrates this reality.
Paul, on the other hand, points to a contrasting reality—that of how our human brokenness tries to lead to separation rather than unity, even when it comes to the meal that should bind us together like no other. The church at Corinth was not all that different than what we experience today. Human selfishness gets in the way of Christian selflessness. Paul urges the believers to take note of how they come together to celebrate this meal. Everyone has a place at the table. All are worthy.
In fact, Holy Communion is the greatest gathering, one that satisfies the hungriest of hearts. Next time you come to the table, look around and give thanks that we who are, according to Martin Luther, all beggars come with open hands and are fed. Every single one of us feasts, and we all get the same thing. And not only that, the feast transcends our notions of human time gathering all the faithful across time and space in God’s kairos time.
Holy Communion is the great equalizer. All are welcome. All are fed. We all come as beggars. We are sinners in need, yet forgiven beloved indeed. If that’s not reason to celebrate and give thanks, I don’t know what is. Come to the feast!
Consider weaving communion hymns, “We Come to the Hungry Feast” and “One Bread, One Body” throughout your sermon. Invite worshipers to really consider the words.
Invite your youth to ponder Paul’s admonition to the Christians at Corinth. How do they see similar situations at play today? How is ensuring that all people have equal access to Jesus love, mercy, grace, and meal good stewardship?
Set a small table with lovely place settings, candles, and nice linens. Place a loaf of bread and a cup of wine or grape juice under cover in the center of the table. Invite the children to consider who should be invited to sit at such a lovely table. (Note: If you don’t have room to set such a table, take some photos to use.) Entertain all answers. Ask the children what sort of food might be served at such a wonderful dinner. Again, entertain all answers. Next pull the cover off of the bread and wine, and tell them that at Christ’s table all are welcome to take part and enjoy the feast. There is always room for one more at the table. No one leaves without bread and wine or a blessing. Say a short prayer of thanks
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
How can we be good stewards of this amazing gift of Holy Communion? We can take it seriously and faithfully. We can make sure we extend an equal welcome? And we can share the story of why this simple meal of a bit of bread and a sip of wine is so important and life-giving to us.
Stewardship at Home
This week plan a meal where you will set a welcome table for guests. Plan the menu, the table settings, and make invitations. Perhaps you can host a potluck picnic for your neighbors. Remember that sharing table fellowship is a foretaste of the feast to come when all will be gathered in to our Lord’s embrace and welcomed to the banquet that will never end.
Photos: © Wellford Tiller – Fotolia.com, scott06 and tnarik, Creative Commons. Thanks!
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