We read in Acts 2 of the church gathering in ever increasing numbers, sharing in life and food together.
At this time of pandemic, we also gather in Jesus’ name, not all in the same place, but with the same intent. We gather in separate homes and at different times today around the table of our Lord. Our intent is not to be together physically, but spiritually, unified by the saving blood of Jesus as we break bread and drink wine. Our gathering in Jesus’ name is at Christ’s invitation, to recognise his presence amongst us.
Not only do we meet around different tables, we also use different elements. For some, a mug of tea and a slice of toast, for others a glass of squash and a biscuit. But it is not about the ingredients, or the quantity; it is about the Spirit of God filling afresh each one of us with God’s grace as we eat and as we drink in remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross.
We remind ourselves of the events of the night of Jesus’ betrayal. Reclining at table, amongst his 12 disciples for one final time, Jesus eats the feast of the Passover with a troubled heart. A meal to remember God’s historic saving of his people from slavery in Egypt, Jesus reframes as a current and ongoing saving of all people from the burden of sin. The bread is broken, the wine is drunk; all shared as a future echo of the imminence of a body tortured and blood spilt.
The disciples also eat and drink, concerned more for their status as Jesus’ companions than for their friend’s current plight. One man, included in this feast, leaves the gathering to prepare for his friend’s betrayal. Grace reaches out to embrace all the sinners around the table, but that one sinner turns his back and walks away into the night.
Today, as sinners we sit, and we share. Grace reaches out to us as we confess our failings, our shame and embraces us in God’s love and mercy. Grace that is offered freely but that was bought at such cost. Grace that welcomes us in and gives us our place at Jesus’ table, where there is room for all.
The disciples did not realise until later what was going on, that the events of the following hours would change so much for so many. We also face unfolding stories of our own, an unknown future in the midst of this current crisis among so many other crises. But we face it all with Christ, crucified yet raised to life. We face it all with Christ, suffering yet glorified. We face it all with Christ, abandoned yet united within the Trinity.
This is the mystery of faith; Christ died once for all. Those who receive from him, receive also the companionship of the Spirit. Separated from one another by a virus, gathered through the bread and wine that we now share with gratitude.
Father of life,
In the shadow of death we give you thanks.
The path your Son took to the cross is for all, not just us in our homes and gardens.
We who eat and drink in your name accept your invitation to the table;
may we do all we can to let others know that they are also invited,
so all may share in the Good News of grace poured out.
In the name of the one who made all this possible by his death on the cross,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
And we share in bread and wine in all its forms as a symbol of the forgiveness and grace that we receive from God.