Settle In (Matthew 26:17-19)

By Neal Windham

 

The Lord’s Supper is a meal to be shared. It is not a light snack—don’t be fooled by its size—nor even a sumptuous dessert following a really good entrée. It is not a quick lunch, eaten alone, nor a hasty meal thrown together and packed tightly in a brown paper bag, something to get us through the day.

No, the Lord’s Supper invites God’s family to the finely crafted table of his love in order to share with each other and, above all, him. As every great meal is socially anchored—carefully thought out, prepared, and delivered with others in mind—this meal belongs to all of God’s children. Otherwise, we’re just eating to be eating, like so many sheep grazing alone or in loose packs on a rocky hillside.

Our best meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) are loaded with careful planning, thoughtful contributions from seasoned cooks, our favorite foods—much anticipated foods—good company, and lots of familiar stories and memories among people whom we love dearly. I wonder what all this might mean for us as we gather around the Lord’s table today.

Jesus took bread, simple bread, a favorite food, one commonly anticipated, baked by a local. He blessed the bread, likely with words recalling God’s generous provision as creator and sustainer. He broke and distributed the bread like a father carving and passing the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. And then he instructed his disciples to eat and remember, much as they and their ancestors ate and remembered the exodus year after year.

Our Lord was heavily invested and deeply involved in this meal. How about you? Who here bakes really good bread? Might you supply us a loaf, lovingly prepared, for this table? Who here is willing to prayerfully pour the fruit of the vine into the cup, and in this good way prepare God’s people to proclaim again the Lord’s death until he comes? And who wants to retell the story of God’s unending love around this table next Sunday? Next month? Next year?

We need to get involved with this meal, friends, like every other meaningful meal I know anything about. So roll up your sleeves, settle in, tell the story, listen to your neighbor tell the story, laugh a bit, cry some. Take your time—let the taste and the memory linger. Give thanks! This is how we share a meal.

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Neal Windham is professor of New Testament and Christian spiritual formation at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University.

 

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