The still-warm, steaming bread sits on the table. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Chewy and perfect, you know it’s going to taste so good.
The ruby-red wine rests smoothly, quietly, in the clean, clear glass. You catch a faint whiff of the deep, sweet smell of the fruit of the vine.
The table is set with food which steams and gleams and seems to jump off the platters before you. The scene is pulsating with joy and expectation. Anticipation hangs in the air for the meal set before you.
But what if before you can receive it and enjoy it, something simple has to be done. If you don’t do this one thing, the whole meal is spoiled. Ruined. Will taste bitter and even make you sick. Would you do it?
Of course you would.
This is the image I get from Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth as they were figuring out how to be “the church.” How to be a people living together in community. He warns of the critical importance of waiting for one another before we eat – both symbolically in sharing the Lord’s Supper and, I believe, literally. He says this about how they’re doing it up until that point:
“When you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.”
It’s the picture of selfishness. Of gluttony and extravagance while another starves. It’s not right, he says. He gives us some great guidelines for what we are to do symbolically as we remember Jesus’ death. What we say. How we partake. But there is, I believe, a deeper principle embedded here too: we’re in this together.
So as we eat meals together in the coming days, weeks and months, let us pause before the bounty or the little crumbs – whichever we have – and acknowledge those around our table whether physically or those who are our brothers and sisters but who can’t be with us. Wait for one another. Be silent. Say thank you to God. Remember the gift of Grace.
And then, break the bread. Drink of the cup. And eat it with great Joy in your hearts.
Thanks be to God.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff