March 24, 2016
by: Rebekah Carpenter
My brother and I mentor a young adult who has autism. His name is Justin. Justin’s autism and other development difficulties keep him from having a filter for his rhetoric. If he thinks something, it comes right out of his mouth, and if he is excited about something, everybody knows it. My brother took Justin to the DMV last December to get his learner’s permit. He failed the test the first time, and this was his second try. You all know the DMV. The employees mumble, look down, are short, curt, and everyone is in a begrudgingly long line, trying to use their phones to pass time. There’s a dead-ness in the air, almost as if the staff and some others are sleepwalking. So my brother is quietly texting, waiting for Justin to finish his test, when he hears, ringing through the building, “I did it” I passed” “This is awesome”! My brother looks up and Justin is darting straight towards him, then he stops and announces to the entire sleepwalking DMV – “It’s a Christmas miracle”!!! My brother ducks his head and quickly ushers Justin out. We have all laughed a lot about this story, but Justin’s mother was told Justin would never make it through school, he would be in a group home unable to live independently, and he would certainly never drive a car. Justin brought us back home to the miracle that was right in front of us.
When we as individuals, receive this meal, honoring how Jesus took on our sins through the breaking of his body and the spilling of his blood, Christ, right then, right there, in that moment, is at the table ‘with’ us. We are united with Christ’s body, with his blood. That miracle is breathtaking. God help us as individuals, to each time, no matter what busyness or numbness or shortness or deadness or sleepwalking is going in or around us, and receive this meal, deeply recognizing the miracle right in front of us.
When we receive this miraculous meal, sitting beside our family, our friends and our church family, Jesus Christ is at the table with us uniting us as a community, our families, our friends, to his body, to his blood. That miracle is breathtaking. God help us as a community, to each time, no matter what busyness or numbness or shortness or deadness or sleepwalking is going in or around us, and receive this meal, deeply recognizing the miracle right in front of us.
The beginning verses of the scripture we read tonight are Paul talking about and condemning the abuses of the Lord’s Supper that were happening in the early church. The Lord’s Supper at that time was not just bread and wine, but involved a gathering where a full meal was prepared and eaten. The rich and powerful, who had jobs where they left at normal times were coming to the table for this meal and eating the food as soon as they got there, because they were hungry. By the time those who had worked longer hours, those who could not be there at the exact time of the meal, those who lived on the outskirts of the city, the marginalized and the poor got there, the food was gone. Paul responds – “What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you.” Right after these passages, the author immediately begins the words of institution for the Lord’s Supper.
Paul is communicating – This table, is everyone’s table. Paul is saying Jesus’ sacrifice of his body, his blood, was to ensure that ‘everyone’ is fed – physically ‘and’ spiritually. The people in the church were filling their physical and spiritual needs, while others were going hungry.
The population of Brookhaven, the body and blood of our community, is 38, 423. The largest age group is 30 to 34, the second highest is 35 to 39, the third highest, 40 to 44, the fourth highest under the age of five, and the fifth highest is 45 to 49. 21,908 people own homes, with the average household size being 2.2. The average income of Brookhaven is significantly higher than the average for the Atlanta metro. While it seems the majority in Brookhaven are not physically hungry and have safe roofs over their heads, are many adults and children spiritually hungry? Have they been invited to this table? What about the age group over 50? What about the clear line between rich and poor, with the Brookhaven physically hungry, on the margins, somewhat invisible in these statistics? Have they been invited to this table?
As we partake in this meal at our tables tonight, may we be brought back home to the miracle that is right in front of us. May we be brought back home to the miraculous privilege of being able to take in the body, the blood that individually, nourishes our souls, and unites us with Christ. May we be brought back home to the miraculous privilege of being able to take in the body, the blood, as a community, that nourishes our families, our church, our friends, uniting us all with Christ. May we brought back home to the miraculous privilege of being able to take the hope of this miraculous nourishment and miraculous unity out to Brookhaven, to those who are hungry for it. May we take this meal with the deep understanding that we are dining at everyone’s table.