“Commit to Gratitude: A Shared Meal” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

November 21st,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

What a wonderful week it has been. For those that took home and brought toys for Thanksgiving and Receiving, we are so grateful for you. It was such a wonderful event for our families. We also give thanks for those of you who came to our Congregational Meeting as we cast vision together for our 2020 budget and beyond. This work is hard but worth it, and we are so grateful for your commitment to The Park. This week, if you are going to AAR/SBL be sure to see Pastor Kaji’s panel on immigration Saturday evening. And be sure to make your calendars for the annual YASS Holiday Party 3pm Sunday Dec 8th. All are welcome, see me for more details for this incredible event.

This coming week is Thanksgiving and Reign of Christ Sunday and there is almost no better passage for both than the scripture known as “The Last Supper.” Now for those of you who may not know, the last supper is the scriptural directive for why we have communion every Sunday and why we have an open table. At the last supper, Jesus knowingly breaks bread and shares a cup with those closest to him and those that would betray him. And then he reminds us to do this every time we gather.

The table is where I see the living Christ most easily. Throughout my days and week, I have tender moments and challenging interactions. There are days I want to hide and days I want to be seen for all that I am. But each Sunday when I come to the table, all that is stripped away. The judgements of me and my judgements of others, are nowhere to be found, because we are in the presence of the living God inviting us to join in the feast. It’s an eternal invitation and a table set to eat with all who will join. See what I mean in being the perfect Reign of Christ/Thanksgiving mashup? Let’s read together these words from the book of Luke chapter 22.

“When the hour had come, Jesus took a place at the table with the apostles. Jesus said to them, “I’ve longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I will not eat it again until everything is fulfilled in the reign of God.” Then taking a cup of wine, Jesus gave thanks and said, “Take this and share it among you. I tell you, I will not drink wine from now on, until the reign of God comes.” Then Jesus took bread and gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus did the same with the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which will be poured out for you.
“Look! The hand of my betrayer is at this table with me. The Chosen One is following the appointed course. But woe to the person by whom that One is betrayed!” Then they began to argue among themselves as to which of them would do such a deed.
Another dispute arose among them about who would be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “Earthly rulers domineer over their people. Those who exercise authority over them are called their ‘benefactors.’ This must not happen with you. Let the greatest among you be like the youngest. Let the leader among you become the follower. For who is the greater? The one who reclines at a meal, or the one who serves it? Isn’t it the one reclining at table? Yet here I am among you as the one who serves you.” (Luke 22:14-27)

As I read this, I have a very vivid picture of this gathering. But it’s not 2000+ years ago, it’s at my family cabin, which is my favorite place to have Thanksgiving. People preparing meals – my mom sneaking a bite of the Turkey skin. Sharing a bottle of wine with those that I love. People gathering around a table to eat, love, share, and yes even sometimes argue- just like the disciples-but people gathering, nonetheless. And I know that Jesus is gathered with us.

Friends, the holidays bring out the best and sometimes worst in us, so having a family- chosen, biological, or maybe even online- to share these meals with is important for our spiritual and personal growth. They allow Jesus to show up in new ways and remind us that grace is possible and love is expected.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, help me feel fed so that I may feed others, Amen