Tag Archives: Peter

The Lord’s Table

The communion message I shared last week.

If you come to Adrian Christian Church on a regular basis, you’ve maybe noticed that the person up here talking about communion will say something about open communion, and I think that probably means something different to each of us. But mostly we say it because we want to put our guests at ease and let you know that you’re welcome to join us. At another church I used to attend, to let everyone know they were welcome, the officiant would say, “It’s the Lord’s table, not ours.” You may have noticed that I’ve borrowed that.

I wanted to talk a bit about what that means, “It’s the Lord’s table, not ours.” What kind of person is this lord? What kind of table does he keep? Who eats there?

We know about who is at the Lord’s table by who Jesus actually ate and drank with. He was famous, or infamous I guess, for the company he kept. He ate and drank with those you weren’t to spend time with–notorious sinners and tax collectors the bible says. Imagine someone who sins so much or so well that they are known as a notorious sinner. People called him a drunk and a glutton for spending time with these people. He sat out at the well drinking water with a woman so bad, besides being a Samaritan, that when his disciples showed up, they asked him what in the world he was doing. And one point his family goes to fetch him from someone’s house because he’s become such an embarrassment.

Even when he was just sitting down with his disciples, who was welcome at his table then? At least one tax collector, a bunch of fishermen, maybe one man who spent some time working for violent overthrow of Rome, and we don’t know what the rest did. No one here from the upper crust. And on the last night he spent time with them, here’s what he didn’t say. “Peter, you’re going to deny me three times, so we’re not friends anymore.” And after telling Judas that he knows that he will betray Jesus, he passes the bread and wine to all of them and says, “Eat, drink, all of you.” He doesn’t say, “Not you Judas, you’re not part of this any more.”

He wasn’t choosy about who he spent time with. Or perhaps he was. We don’t have any stories, I don’t think, of him telling the powerful and respected that he would be “coming to their house today.”

So, when I say, it’s not our table, but the lord’s, I just want to be clear, I don’t mean, go clean your life up, learn some bible, try to be respectable, and then come back. I mean, whatever kind of sinner or outcast or low-class embarrassment you might be; whatever rotten things you’ve said, or thought, or done to Jesus or those like him; as long as you’re willing to sit down with the rest of us, broken and messed up as we are, there is a place for you.

Amen

The Communion of Saints

 

Thursday was Halloween.  Friday was All Saints Day or All Souls Day.  It’s not a day that most Protestants pay attention to.  I don’t much myself.  But these communion gigs sort of force me to think about such things.

All Saints Day means different things to different Christians.  For me it’s a day to remember all those brothers and sisters who have gone on before us.  I like to think of my grandparents and of those sort of famous Christians I admire like Keith Greene and C.S. Lewis.  So that’s all of six people.  It’s hard to imagine the size of it all.  The communion of saints.  The church.  Those still here, down the street, around the globe. Wikipedia reckons over two-billion Christians around the world.  And those who have gone on.  Our own family members, plus all those who are lost to history, and those who made a lasting mark that we remember–Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Saint Peter.  All of us. And All Saints Day is a day to remember and celebrate our giant family.

So when we come to celebrate the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, we don’t come by ourselves.  We come together as a community.  Communion, right?  And we don’t come as just this community, but with all those people I mentioned.  The Assembly of God down the street, the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe, the Coptic church, the Amish, small home churches, hidden underground churches, cowboy churches and snake handlers.  And don’t forget my Methodist grand parents, the baptist preacher Marin Luther King, Jr., the catholic reformer Luther, the Catholic nun Mother Theresa, and the Jewish fisherman Peter.  All our bothers and sisters.

That’s a pretty diverse groups.  Can you imagine the worship planning meetings.  We probably have more in common with our non-believing neighbors than we do with most of that list.

Jesus saw this when he prayed for his disciples. He prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

I don’t know if it’s good theology or not, but I like to imagine this communion of saints, those still here, and those who have gone, united, not just in this communion time, but in all we do to grow the church, to build the kingdom, to love each other, take care of each other, and to strengthen each other to take this love out into the world.

I’d like to finish with something from the episcopal book of common prayer.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Living in Fear

This one is from just last week.  But I like it and it seems kind of timely.

 

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. It’s fun to have a good scare–to go to a haunted house, watch a scary movie, and laugh and cringe at the unsettling costumes.  In the end there’s really more laughing than fright.

But lately I’ve talked with a lot of folks who are finding it difficult not to let fear get the best of them. We’re afraid of Isis. We’re afraid of Ebola. We’re afraid of Muslims, except maybe Malala. And we’re afraid of Christians who aren’t like us. We’re afraid of what the democrats are doing to this country, and we’re afraid of what the republicans are doing to this country. We’re afraid of the Russians, again. We’re afraid of school shootings, and we’re afraid of someone taking our guns. We’re afraid of the poor, and we’re afraid of the rich. And we watch tv and read things on the internet that stir up our fears. And we walk around full of fear and hate and dread.

And it makes sense to be afraid sometimes. We know that Jesus was afraid. He had good reason to be. He was so scared of being crucified that night, that he sweat blood as he prayed for a way out. But his actions that night were not based on his fear. John writes that love casts out fear. And that night Jesus didn’t act from a place of fear, but from a place of love.

And it’s hard to get that. We get Peter. We get picking up a sword and striking out at our enemies. We get wanting to send our bombers to the Middle East to kill them all and let god sort them out. But Jesus tells Peter to put down his sword. He tells his disciples, he tells us, to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. And maybe we try. But like Peter again, this time walking on the water, we want to follow Jesus, but the storms are so scary, and we pay attention to them instead of to Jesus, and we sink.

It’s not easy. Before he was beat and crucified, Jesus himself prayed for the strength to do what had to be done. So we’re in good company struggling with our fear. But it’s important, I think, to join Jesus in letting it go. Jesus, who on the cross prayed for those who put him there, Jesus who, as he did  throughout his ministry, offered love and grace to those who didn’t deserve it and didn’t even ask for it. That Jesus calls us to follow him, through our fears, to live out the love that he demonstrated, the love he’s offered us though we didn’t deserve it, the love we’re to bring to the world, even, or maybe especially, for those who scare us.

Amen