Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Meal Speaks

April 17, 2014:

Call:    Matthew 26: 14-30
Text:    Matthew 26: 31-48;   27: 45-50
Prayer:  "Holy Thursday"   (283)
Benediction:  W&S # 23

            The Meal Speaks

Today we place ourselves among the disciples
as they join with Jesus in observing the Passover

As we have already heard,
Our time with them begins with the disciples asking him
      Where he wanted to observe the holiday.

We heard Jesus respond by telling them
to go to a certain man and to tell him,
"The teacher says,   my time is near:
I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples"

They clearly understood that they were to tell the certain man:
that Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover at his house
and   that he would be celebrating it there with his disciples.

We know they understood this
   Because they did what Jesus had directed
   They made the arrangements
and they celebrated Passover in that house.

But there was another part to the instruction,
They were to tell the man, that the teacher also said,
   "My time is near."
This part can get lost

We who have gathered here tonight
have heard the story so many times
that we know what Jesus meant by "my time is near"
   He meant that he was about to die.

But it seems pretty clear that the disciples to whom he spoke
did not understand that.

It may be that they concentrated so much
on the location of the Passover observance
that it never registered to them
that Jesus said, "My time is near."

Or if it did register, they may have misinterpreted it
For their reaction during the supper was one of animated surprise.

They might have interpreted his statement as meaning:
Simply that Passover was near
Or They might have interpreted it as meaning:
That he was about to take over as ruler
   of Jerusalem and Judea.

I like that last suggestion
   It seems more positive and hopeful.

But I am inclined to think that either
the words simply did not register with them
or that they thought he was referring to the Passover being near

Even though I would like to,
I can't believe that they thought he meant
   That he was going to take over
And I say that despite the Palm Sunday hosannas.

For it seems to me
that if they thought he was about to take over,
Matthew would have recorded
         Their excitement and joy
         Their nervousness and apprehension.

But we find none of that in the story.

And I am certain that they did not think he meant
   That his death was near.

There is no way
that that   would not have produced a lively discussion
   as soon as he said, "My time is near."

And there is no way
   that that discussion
would have been left out of Matthew's gospel.

I suspect, however,
that Jesus did not mind their lack of comprehension

I think that he wanted
   To tell them at the meal
And   I think that he wanted
To tell them with the meal.

I think he chose the meal to make it clear to them
   That his death was one of sharing
   And, of course,
 there is no place where sharing is more obvious
         Than at a meal.

He appears to have gotten to the subject early on.
   For the first thing that we know he said at the meal was,
      "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me."

And that caused more than a little consternation
   One after another they responded,
      "Surely not I, Lord?"

And one who spoke those words of protest
   was Judas Iscariot himself
   who had already negotiated a deal with the chief priests.

Then, as the meal progressed, Jesus told them even more.
   This time speaking through the meal itself.

For, instead of simply saying,
   "I have to tell you that by this time tomorrow I will be dead,"

He picked up a loaf of bread
He blessed  it and gave thanks for it

Then He told those gathered with him
   "This bread is not just physical nourishment
   and   it is not just a reminder of God's passing over the Hebrews in Egypt.

No, this bread represents my body
   It needs to be shared
   And to be shared, it needs to be broken.

And he broke the bread and gave it to them, saying
Take it and eat it      so that I may be in you.

Likewise he took the cup, gave thanks for it and then announced,
   This is not just a thirst quenching drink
And   It is not just a reminder of the lamb's blood
Which our ancestors placed over their doorways
So that God would pass over them

No, this cup represents my blood.
   It too needs to be shared
And to be shared, it needs to be poured out

And he poured the wine and gave it to them, saying
Take it and drink it so that I may be in you.

And if they had any doubt
that the broken body and poured out blood meant death
   he chillingly clarified it:
      "I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine
         Until that day when I drink it new with you
         In my father's kingdom."

That meal was an intimate gathering of friends
   Of people who had worked together
   Of people who had learned together
   Of people who had worshipped and been challenged together

And   Of people who were about to mourn together

But what Jesus said     and what he was about to experience
was not just for those gathered in the Jerusalem house.

He made that clear  - very clear -
when talking about his blood being poured out
For he actually said it this way,
"... this is my blood of the new covenant
   which is poured out not just for you, but for many
      for the forgiveness of sins.

That body was broken and that blood was poured out for many

They were broken and poured out
   For the forgiveness of the sins of his friends and disciples
They were broken and poured out
   For the sins of those who attacked and criticized him
They were broken and poured out
   For the sins of those whose company he enjoyed
They were broken and poured out
   For the sins of those who were "less enjoyable"

And the body was broken and the blood poured out
   For the forgiveness of the sins of us and our friends
   For the sins of those who have attacked and criticized us
   For the sins of those whose company we enjoy or not.

It is my prayer that the meal years ago in Jerusalem
   Speaks to us
   Tonight in Potsdam

It is my prayer that you and I allow our remembrance of that meal
   And of the events that followed
To include
our friends and our critics
those we enjoy and those whom we do not

It is my prayer that you and I see how Christ loved everyone
   And that we allow ourselves to interact with others
      With that same free and unconditional love
      That enabled our Lord to go to the cross - willingly

If we can take that from this meal
   Then the meal has spoken to us like it did to the disciples
And it will prepare us for the remarkable experience that is Easter