November 11, 2017
Enjoying One Another in God
November 11, 2017
This week’s sermon text: Romans 14:13-23
In the 1984 movie Places in the Heart Sally Fields won an Oscar playing a depression-era widow in Texas, trying to hold on to the family farm; the bank is waiting to foreclose. The movie details her struggles after her husband, a sheriff, was accidentally shot and killed by a young black man, who was subsequently lynched by a mob. With the help of an older black man, a drifter, and her boarder, a blind man, she manages to harvest her cotton and win a prize for the first bale weighed at the gin. The last scene shows her family in church. The communion bread is passed from one person to another, and as the camera pans out, we see that also receiving the bread is everyone in the community, friends and enemies alike, including the man who was lynched and the sheriff who was killed. This scene depicts the communion of saints, the cloud of witnesses. Included at the communion table are those who have gone before us. Holy Communion is a foretaste of the promise of God’s heavenly banquet.
Psalm 23 reminds us that God sets a table “in the presence of my enemies.” I imagine the young shepherd David with his lunch spread out on the grass before him. His enemies in the fields were the lion and the bear, and maybe an occasional bandit. When he became king, he had many enemies including his own son Absalom. Who are our enemies today? Do we make enemies of the people we strongly disagree with? Does God set the table for them too?
How do we imagine our resurrection life with God? Paul’s words are worth repeating: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Theologians for centuries have written about God’s future in which God heals divisiveness and discord, making friends of enemies. Augustine wrote in the early 5th c., that we will not only enjoy God; we will also enjoy “one another in God.” (City of God, 19.17.)
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- When we pray privately, are we aware of the “cloud of witnesses” supporting us in prayer?
- Who do we think of as being with us at Holy Communion?
- What are good ways to remember the leaders in the faith who have gone before us?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Say the Lord’s Prayer and then point out the first-person pronouns: our, us, we – all plural. Why do you think Jesus wanted the prayer to be for a group to pray, not only an individual?
- Praying to God is not just saying the words; it is a call to action. What actions for the good of the community are called for by this prayer?
God, your Son Jesus said that you take great pleasure in giving us your Kingdom. Help us to remember that your house has many rooms, and to learn to live now in peace with all those in your household. Grant us grace to love as Jesus loved. Amen.