Scripture: Acts 2:42-47 & I Corinthians. 11:20-26
Sermon: “Church Family Meals” by Pastor Todd Buurstra
Experts say that healthy families eat together at least four times per week. This allows for conversation, fights, prayer, and just connecting. These family’s kids tend more towards A’s in school, the ability to say NO to sex/drugs, and a smile on their faces. What about churches?
We share very few family meals together. Either because Protestants don’t eat often (i.e., communion), and Catholics don’t like guests at their family table. Think about our annual pastor exchange between Fr. Joe (now Msgr. Joe) and me during Week of Christian Unity. How odd it must feel to Fr. Joe to preach here and not share a meal with us when he is used to being filled every day/Sunday. And let me tell you how upset I am that after I preach at St. Bernards I have to get down off the altar (do I contaminate it?), and can’t come forward to receive the body of my Lord in his meal. I hate it! (Don’t tell them this because my beef is with the Vatican and not with St B’s.) But even in the same church, or Christians in the same family, we may not com-mune together. And this is exactly why some of you say, If you Christians can’t even eat toge-ther, why should I believe in Jesus? Didn’t Jesus want his table to unite, not divide?! I agree.
So how does Jesus want his family meal to bring us together?
God’s word teaches us that Jesus’ family meal was first the Jewish Passover. The Last Supper was about Jesus fulfilling the Passover as Messiah. There Jesus showed how God freed the Hebrew slaves and how God frees sin slaves. In his family meal we are connected with Jews.
And then God poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost where 3000 were saved. They met daily in the temple and ate Communion in their homes. Their meals/meetings were filled with such a sense of Jesus’ presence that folks flocked to faith! Jesus’ meal welcomes guests!
As the faith spread, Jesus’ family meal became weekly: like Sundays at 8 PM after the Gentile slaves’ workday. (You think 10:45 service is late!) But Paul writes that the family was grazing and not talking much. The rich, with the day off, gorged themselves and got drunk on the wine, while the slaves rushing from work got only a morsel and a drop—a broken body!
Can’t you relate to how God’s heart sings when different family members, not only Catholic and Protestant, but also two NBRCers who disagree, eat regularly together at his table. And can’t you relate to how God’s heart aches when we Protestants don’t want to eat with Jesus very often, and Catholics don’t want to eat with Protestants at all! Or, to get off the Protestant-Catholic thing, how we’ll eat politely, but not talk with Jesus, or our faith sister across the table.
To summarize the Bible’s teaching on Communion in one sentence:
Jesus offers weekly communion to grow us closer to God and his family to be his body in NJ.
After study, the Elders have decided that NB will add a second, monthly communion with children for a six month trial next January. But another meal closer to Jesus’ weekly ideal, by itself, will not change us much. What will change us is if we enter into the meaning of Com-munion. Every Communion let’s ask, Jesus, how has our communication been lately? And, Jesus, am I letting you reconnect me to family, friends and enemies? Then his body and blood will nourish us to grow closer to God and others, to get more A’s, say more NOs, and smile more
So today, let Jesus’ meal draw you closer to God and each other. Notice the people on their way to Jesus: some wear a tie, others in jeans; some with grey hair, others with no hair; some with a cane, others with a skip; some smiling, others sad, but all come to Jesus, where we are one. (And guess what? The RCA and Catholics have finally agreed to recognize each other’s baptism. So can Msgr. Joe and I share communion before we die? Jesus would smile at that.)