February 26, 2019
A Meal with Jesus’ Friends
February 26, 2019
The daily lectionary offers us a Psalm, a reading from the Hebrew Bible, and a reading from the New Testament. The psalm is a prayer or meditation to help us begin our period of devotion. The other two readings may or may not directly relate to each other and are chosen so that we read a range of passages from the whole Bible over a three-year period. It’s good to find connections that lead us to see God’s truth revealed in both testaments. We worship the God of Israel who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also true that each reading has a unique message and its own integrity. Today we have an excellent story about Saul and David that asks us to think about how, with God’s help, to treat enemies and de-escalate a crisis, even when the opponent—King Saul—is becoming unhinged.
In 1 Corinthians 11 we have Paul’s teachings on the Lord’s Supper, and we can look for what in Paul’s writing applies to our own practice and our faithfulness to the sacrament. The heart of Paul’s instructions, verses 23-26, is omitted, possibly because the words are familiar; we hear them every time Communion is celebrated. Instead these verses focus on extraneous matters that may seem unimportant but speak to our true participation in the act of remembering Christ’s body broken for us.
The first thing we discover is that Holy Communion is not celebrated privately (v. 33). The sacrament is for all and celebrated together by the whole Body of Christ, the church—even if there are only a few people present to represent the church. In Corinth there were as yet no church buildings so church members came together in homes for worship and the meal, but some went ahead eating as if it were “every man for himself.” Some people brought lots of food but did not share, and others had nothing to bring. Paul found it offensive for some to eat elaborate meals in front of others who had nothing.
By cautioning against offending the poor, Paul connects the Lord’s Supper—the Eucharist, “thanksgiving,” “God’s grace”—to the way we live our lives. If we are offensive to the poor, how can we truly celebrate God’s great gift of grace to us? Humiliating the poor is a way of despising the church (v. 21). Furthermore, the disconnect between church practice and the way we treat others leads to spiritual sickness (vv. 29-30). Turning our lives around toward God, so that what we do in worship determines how we relate “to the least of these my brothers and sisters” every day becomes the way we truly celebrate the sacraments and live grace-filled lives.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FIELD
- John Wesley encouraged Methodists to “live with the poor.” What do you think he meant by this?
- What attitudes toward the poor seem offensive to you? How can coming together for the Lord’s Supper break down walls of inequality?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- How is celebrating Holy Communion like having dinner with friends? What makes it different?
- Why do we say a blessing before meals?
- Who is invited to Jesus’ meal?
God of love, you call us to your table, and daily we bless our food in your name. Give us the courage to embrace all Jesus’ friends who join us in the meal of grace. May our love for you be known by our love for others. In remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Amen.
Please also join us in prayer for the United Methodist Church General Conference in St. Louis this week (February 23-26). The Memorial Chapel will be open for prayer on Monday and Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.