SERMON: A TABLE OF FAITH, SERVICE AND FORGIVENESS.
What do we live by? What do we need to live?
Do we live by bread alone? Can we survive on bread alone – yet on words alone?
The Danish Fairy Tale Writer H.C. Andersen said: At leve er ikke nok. Solskin, frihed og en lille blomst må man ha’.
Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
And the recently deceased Danish Poet Benny Andersen wrote in his Table Grace:
Giv mig idag mit brød at smøre.
Blødt og strengt skal mødes i mine hænder
Og smørrets solkin overvælde brødets mørke.
Lad mig røre det vi lever af
Brunt smør, gult smør og kærlighed.
Give me my daily bread to spread
Soft and stern meet in my hands
And the sunshine of the butter will overcome the darkness of the bread.
Let me touch what we live by
Brown bread, yellow butter and love.
It is often said that Jesus ate his way through the Gospel of Luke. Luke’s Gospel is filled with eating. The Gospel of Luke is filled with bread, fish, tables and wine. Shared meals. Important meals.
There are 19 meals in Luke – 13 of which are only mentioned by Luke. So, if you love to eat, Luke is your Gospel! Meals are important not only to Luke but to us as Lutherans and especially as Danish Lutheran who are even more known as the Happy Danes who do enjoy a good meal. The Gospel according to Luke might be the most Danish Lutheran of the 4 Gospel, as the meals are plenty, the tables beautifully set and the invitations to join are welcoming and many.
This week alone we are invited to many meals as we prepare and celebrate Easter 2019. Sunday at Palm Sunday we shared a fine meal of pork, potatoes and gravy, tonight we will share a meal of lamb, chicken and spices, Easter Sunday we will share a Brunch of eggs, bread and champagne!
Meals are important to us – because meals are so much more than simple essential and fundamental physical nourishment: meals are so much more.
Meals are important as we walk the path of faith; the road of atonement, freedom, reunion and heaven is not only leading us to the table, but also nourishing us at the table.
Meals are important as we sit down and experience not only a delicious meal for our stomach, but even more a soothing meal for our souls.
Meals are so much more than the food on the table. Meals are occasions for family dynamics, for deep experiences of relations and connections.
Meals are occasions for healing conversations and compassionate hospitality, for fellowship and celebration, for worshipping and forgiveness.
Meals can also be tables of confrontations, but even more of redemption and reconciliation.
All of this and so much more we heard in the Gospel of Luke. The invitation to share that last meal with Christ, the invitation to believe that breaking the bread and drinking the wine will be continue in heaven, the truth about the relations, the confrontation and the conflicts even among the closest of Jesus friends. Even at that last and lasting meal, they argue. Who is best, who is most important…? And all of that arguing is silence when Jesus closes the meal with sharing his life and asking them to share their lives too: to share, to serve, to be a servant, and remember to make that meal and that table a place of forgiveness, love, faith and service.
That is what we remember tonight. That is how we gather at the long purple table in the hall tonight: to be reminded that we are connected, that we are depending on each other, that we do share and serve as Jesus showed us to.
The brown bread and the red wine would be nothing on their own. For these simple fundamental nourishments to become something more we need this story and a blessing and people who believed and still believe.
That is why we are here tonight.
Because we are hungry not just for bread and wine, but for love, forgiveness, faith and hope.
It would not have been a table and a meal to remember, it would not have been God’s table, if they hadn’t all been gathered around it:
The betrayer and the faithful friend,
The power-hungry and the justice seeker
The faithful and the fickle.
When Jesus poured the wine and when the bread was broken, when everyone could eat: the outcast and the respected, the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by, the arrogant and the gracious, The table transformed and became so much more: the table became a foretaste of love made real and of a world made whole.
Our company at our tables, at church, in the hall, at home and at restaurants, will include the betrayer and the beloved, the wrong-doers and the wrongly done by. It would not be God’s table without them and without us.
The promise is that when we are together, when we tell the story, when we remember that last supper, when we receive the blessing of the brown bread and the red wine, we will taste a foretaste of love made real and a world made whole.
Just living is not enough, the fairytale writer said. We need freedom, flowers, food, families, friends, fellowship, faith – and forgiveness.
Just eating is not enough, the poet said. We need to touch what we live by brown bread and yellow butter and love.
Let us sing about that table, that meal and that promise of healing, forgiveness and love.
“By your hand your feed.”
(inspired by Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:14-20)
“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread,
and after blessing it he broke it,
gave it to the disciples and said,
‘Take, eat; this is my body.’” Matthew 26:26
We believe that bread comes from grain
that grows in the wind and the sun and the rain
with the farmers’ help.
We believe that bread comes from love
the love of God
the love of the farmer
the love of the baker’s hands
the love of those who bring it to us.
We believe that bread can be
and should be broken
and given to all persons
until all have enough.
We believe that Jesus loved bread
and took it
and broke it
and blessed it
and gave it to his disciples.
We believe enough in bread
to want to receive it from Jesus
to want it to nurture us.
We want to be bread for others.
We believe the Spirit will help us.