I’m going to post this today and then Happy Monday as usual tomorrow. This is an update from an archive post dated 5/18/2009.
Memorial Day is traditionally the first long weekend of summer, so maybe for you it’s just another excuse to break out the grill and water toys. If you have to work that day, maybe it’s an inconvenience that that the Post Office and banks will be closed. Some people will simply sleep in that day and not care why. The American dream lives on. Continue reading →
Jesus is often referred to as “braking bread.” He blessed bread and broke it at the feeding of the five thousand, and again for the four thousand. He broke bread at the Last Supper, and finally in one of the post-resurrection appearances. That’s when they recognized him, as he broke bread, then he vanished from their sight!
So what’s up with breaking bread? Hebrews in the Old Testament had swords and daggers, and we know there were skilled craftsmen in Israel. Jesus himself was a carpenter; obviously they had the ability to slice bread. It’s not that Jews couldn’t slice bread, they simply did not slice their bread. Thanks was given to God before food was eaten, and bread was probably offered at every meal. There may not be a command from God to not cut through bread, but there actually were rules about cutting stones for the alter of sacrifice. The Temple was made of all sorts of carefully worked materials, but the alter was put together with stones that no tool had worked. Beams, doors, cup, bowls, candle holders, et. al. were cut, carved, beaten into shape, etc. But the alter was carefully fitted together using stones in their “original” God-given shape. Breaking bread, especially right after thanking God for it, reminded the Jews were their meals really came from. It would have been disrespectful to cut their bread with tools.
Our communion wafers are uniform in shape and size; they come out of the box that way. They go together well with the little 3 oz plastic cups we use. The bread and the cup remind us that Jesus’ body was broken and his blood spilled. The symbol would work just as well with Oreo’s and Kool-Aid. But if you really want a feel for the disciples at that first last supper, try baking a loaf and passing it around. Each believer could tear off their own piece. You could go the distance and dip your bread into wine grape juice rather than sipping it. Just remember what is important – Jesus body was broken. What we need is a savior.
The banner at the top of this page is da Vinci’s portrait of the Last Supper. Renaissance Christians knew that Jesus and his disciples were not white with brown hair and blue eyes. They would not have been sitting in chairs at a table either. Despite the cultural “anomalies” the most important things are still visible; Jesus broke bread and passed the cup. That, after all, was the point.
This is Holy Week, the final days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, but these days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday are about remembering the last precious days that Jesus had with his closest followers. This would be the last time they celebrated Passover together, and Jesus still had a lessor or two he wanted to share. During the course of the meal, he gets up from the table and removed his outer robe. He then ties a towel around his waist, kneels on the floor, and begins washing the disciples feet. We know what happens to our own feet during the summer months, going about in sandals or flops. Imagine wearing sandals everyday and walking everywhere you went. He then asks if they understand why. Jews did not wash feet; feet are unclean, both literally and religiously to the Jews. He was their Master and Lord (and maker of heaven and earth) but he was humble like a servant. If he then, he explains, is willing to wash their feet they should each be doing the same. It is not a literal command to wash feet, but a lesson about humility and service to others.
Jesus broke bread to remind his followers that his body was broken. The fruit of the vine in the cup reminds us that his blood was poured out. He said that without taking part in his body and blood we had no part in him. But if we receive the one he sends – the Holy Spirit – then we receive him. And if we receive him, we receive the one who sent him – God the Father. The Hebrews had been celebrating Passover since they were brought out of Egypt. When the death angel saw the blood of the sacrifice it “passed over” that home, sparing the first born. Jesus takes the elements of that meal, and gives them new meaning for his followers. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. When God sees the blood of Jesus on our hearts, his judgement will pass over.
There’s a story in 1 Samuel about the Israelites carrying the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them. They had beaten by the Philistines and wanted a rematch. So they carried the Ark with them into battle so that, in their own words, “it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” Rather than asking God to save them they thought “it” would save them. They confused the symbol with the thing it represented. The symbol is not the thing.* Continue reading →
I don’t normally come home from church and blog my pastor’s sermon. I know some people do. I am making an exception. The following is my take on the Sunday a.m. service preached by Ken Bolin of Manchester, KY.
In I Samuel, the Israelites confuse the Ark of the Covenant for what the Ark represented, namely the presence of God. They wrongly assumed carrying the Ark into battle would protect them. Continue reading →
Memorial Day is next week (May 25), and I’ve been thinking about what that means. Memorial Day is traditionally the first long weekend of summer, so maybe for you it’s just another excuse to break out the grill and water toys. If you have to work that day, maybe it’s an inconvenience that that the Post Office and banks will be closed. Some people will simply sleep in that day and not care why. The American dream lives on.
The real reason for Memorial Day is so that we remember. In this case, we remember the men and women who died in miltary service to our country. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it began following the Civil War and was expanded to honor fallen soldiers of all wars during World War I.
So, Memorial Day is strictly American and has nothing to do with the Bible, right? Continue reading →
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, he was taking an ancient Hebrew tradition and giving it new meaning. (Matt. 26) For the followers of Jesus, taking communion reminds us that Jesus’ body was broken and his blood shed just like Passover reminded the Jews that the death angel passed over Egypt. Jesus is the Lamb of God that was slain, much like the sacrificial lamb was slain in the Old Testament; the difference is that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice so that no more is needed. (Heb. 9)
If you listen to this sermon, remember that I’m speaking to middle and high school students. LOTS of backstory and explanation is given, and I am well aware that I often repeat myself. I believe the message is the truth of God’s Word, and the Gospel is clearly presented. Click here to listen (mp3)