The Togetherness Meal - Sermon w/devotional for Maundy Thursday

Inspired by Mark 14: 22-42

I have had some great cooks in my life. My grandma’s tortillas, made with lard, well, only if she ran out of bacon grease that she’d been saving, were the greatest tortillas the world has ever seen. My mom’s chile verde, with ground beef, not shredded, is to die for. My dad’s burgers on the grill are second to none. My wife’s crack cake will send you straight to heaven and back. My daughter Jonah’s pan de muertos made me like anise for the first time it was so good. I’ll stop there otherwise I’m gonna have to stop here and go eat! I have certainly had a lot of great food in my 45 years on this earth. And I’m guessing you have too. However, I’m not so sure it’s the actual food that makes these dishes so memorable. Surrounding all this food are so many great memories, and those memories are filled with so many great people that have graced my life. So, do I like to eat? Sure. But even more than that, some of my greatest memories of my life, are with the people that surround that food, both the cooks and the consumers of their food.

Food has a particular distinction that makes it so special for me though, and I’m guessing that many people of color can say this as well. For me, as a second-generation U.S. American, the food of my culture has been the lasting element that has survived down the family line to me. After our language slowly faded away from us, after our cultural holidays faded or were usurped by American culture, after our religious affiliations slowly faded away, after our cultural apparel slowly faded away, our cuisine has remained a constant—it has not only remained but has kept our family together, and I don’t just mean my family that is alive today, but it has kept us in touch, connected, together, with my family of old, family that is long gone, family I knew, and family I’ve only known through stories shared around a dinner table. As mysterious as it is, food has a way of keeping people together.

I believe Jesus knew this when he gathered those closest to him for one last meal together. It was about more than just that one meal, whether they knew that in the moment or not. But it didn’t take the young church long to recognize that this meal was going to keep them together, was going to nourish them in ways they couldn’t even imagine, was going to be the conduit by which they would remain united. They soon realized that there was power in this meal, and in no time at all, they began sharing the meal every Sunday with each other. And so, two thousand years later, here we are sharing the same meal, the same meal that keeps us together, both with each other, and with two thousand years of generations past, that has kept the meal alive to this day.

In these days of pandemic, the need for this togetherness is more present than ever. In wisdom, our church leaders have invited us to think of this time away from the meal as a fast, which is another sound biblical tradition. But in the middle of Holy Week, and no end in sight of this current crisis, many have decided to celebrate some form of the communion meal virtually with their communities. And I believe that this is because many have recognized that it isn’t the meal itself that is magical, it isn’t the words that are said that are magical, it isn’t where we gather that is magical, it is the power of togetherness that we embody, wherever and whenever we are the body of Christ, through all times and places, united as one. It is a proclamation that this virus, will not have the final say in this body of Christ this is you and I. No, it is Christ who will have the last word. So, my dearest siblings, know most assuredly, that no matter the meal, no matter the place, no matter the time, it is Christ who unites us, and no one or no thing, can take that away from us, not in this life, or the next! Thanks be to God. Amen.

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