A Room for All Time–Maundy Thursday

[Each day of Holy Week, I am going to publish a communion meditation that I wrote and delivered, while serving as an Elder, over the past seven years where I worship at Northwood Christian Church, in Springfield, Oregon.]

A Room for All Time

Jesus knew what he wanted.  It was time to prepare for the Passover.  Jesus knew it would be his last Passover and his last meal.  And so he wanted a room that would hold all of his closest disciples, the Twelve, and probably those few other men and women whom Jesus loved most.  He sent Peter and John to arrange the room and the meal.  The owner of the house is not named, but undoubtedly he was one of Jesus’ followers.  The room was large and on the second story of the house.  The room was perfect–perfect for the One who would make this a room for all time.

For over a thousand years the Jews had celebrated the Passover in rooms like this one.  But Jesus was standing history on its head, and now this room would witness an act of God’s grace.  For in that room Jesus spoke the words, “This is my body, which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  As Jesus spoke those words, God’s presence was no longer hidden away in the Temple in the Holy of Holies.  For the rest of all time, God would be present in any room, or place, in which the words were spoken and the meal partaken.

Yes, Jesus knew what he wanted that night.  The Upper Room was the place where Jesus declared himself to be God’s greatest gift to creation, where through his death on the cross, all humans would find salvation.

As you eat the bread and drink the cup today, let us all give thanks to God for His presence in this room at this very moment.

August 15, 2004

Final Meal of Grace–Day 4 of Passion Week

[Each day of Holy Week, I am going to publish a communion meditation that I wrote and delivered, while serving as an Elder, over the past seven years where I worship at Northwood Christian Church, in Springfield, Oregon.]

Final Meal of Grace

Author Lauren Winner, in her book, Mudhouse Sabbath, writes this sentence, “Humanity’s first sin was disobedience manifested in a choice about eating.”  In the book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve they may eat the fruit of every tree except that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  When they choose to disobey God and eat its fruit, at that meal humanity falls from grace.

When Moses leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, God institutes a new meal of remembrance, the Passover meal.  This food, eaten once a year, was to remind the people of Israel of God’s mercy and their liberation from enslavement.  When they ate this food, they were thanking God for the Law, which gave them their identity as God’s chosen people and set the stage for the Messiah.

How appropriate, how beautiful it is, then, on the night when God’s grace is to be returned to humanity, God gives to us the final meal.  When we choose to eat this food, we are accepting God’s offer to forgive our sins.  It is the Messiah, Jesus, who transforms the Passover meal into not just a remembrance of His sacrifice on the cross, but into an act of God’s covenant of grace, present through the Holy Spirit.

Listen to the words:

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  And He took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:26-28, NAS).

January 30, 2005

An Exercise in Futility–Day 3 of Passion Week

[Each day of Holy Week, I am going to publish a communion meditation that I wrote and delivered, while serving as an Elder, over the past seven years where I worship at Northwood Christian Church, in Springfield, Oregon.]

An Exercise in Futility

As Jesus moved into the third year of his ministry he talked more about his being put to death and rising again.  We can forgive the people of Judea if they were more than a bit skeptical about this claim.  They were intimately acquainted with death.  The average lifespan at that time was less than fifty years.  Dr Jon Berquist, a biblical scholar in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has stated that half the women giving birth died during delivery.  The infant mortality rate in some years exceeded 50%.  Add disease, war and malnutrition and you can see that death was a constant presence and threat.  And as for Jesus’ claim to rise and live after dying?  It was almost laughable, after all dead was dead was dead.  Everybody knew that.

Yet.  Yet, that is what Jesus kept saying would happen to him.  As you read the accounts in all four of the Gospels, even the skeptics begin to wonder.  There was something about Jesus, in the way he taught, in the way he seemed to have this unfathomable connection to God.  When they executed Jesus on the cross, the skeptics had become so unnerved by his claim to rise on the third day that they posted guards at his tomb.

It was an exercise in futility.  Half a generation later, the Apostle Paul would write to the church at Corinth: “So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is shown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body…it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”(I Cor 15:42, 44).  That is our hope, our belief, and what brings us to this table today.  Here we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, his body broken for us, his blood shed for us.

June 26, 2005