Sermon, Maundy Thursday 2016: “Dining Among Friends”

Text: Mark 14:22-42

It was 1914, and it was the first year of World War I.  The war had raged on beginning with the summer, and of course, the battle was bloody.  And then came Christmas Eve.  German troops and Allied soldiers held unofficial ceasefires across lines.  Men crawled out of their trenches to sing Christmas carols, exchange cigarettes, play a game of touch football, and even share a meal together – a can of cold military rations.

It was the only widespread ceasefire during the War, and even when warned that committing acts of “fraternization with the enemy”would be punished by superiors, and even with the knowledge that tomorrow the war would resume and these men would go back to their trenches and to the task of killing each other, at least for one night, these men had decided it was enough to simply dine among those who were enemies for this one night – as friends.

I often wonder what that last supper so long ago was like for Jesus.  Sitting there with his friends, the disciples, knowing what was to transpire.  How did he do it?  Listening to Peter’s bravado, witnessing his disciples falling asleep on the eve of his arrest, praying earnestly to God to remove a burden perhaps too great for even the Son of God to bear perhaps – and seeing that this will all come to pass – Jesus chooses to dine among friends.

To dine among friends whom you know will abandon you.  To dine among friends who you know will betray you.  To dine among friends who are so flawed.

That is ultimately who Jesus is, one who dines among sinners.

And Jesus doesn’t just dine among sinners, he gives them something even more than simple bread to eat and wine to drink.  He gives them a piece of himself, and ultimately, his life.  And it is the same for us tonight too.

I have to admit, I don’t have a lot to offer you tonight in the way of words.  Like you, it’s been a week of feeling betrayed and being the betrayer, feeling alone and being the one who does the leaving, feeling weary and being the one wearing out others.  But I come tonight, like Jesus, like the disciples, to dine among friends.

I come to dine around this table because I need to give of myself to others as much as I need to receive.  I need to be surrounded by people who are both saint and sinner just like me and know that Jesus chooses to dine with us around this Table because we are worthy in his eyes. Because Jesus counts us as friends.  I need to be surrounded by community around this Table because what I came in here from tonight is still out there waiting for me after we end our worship tonight.

Let us leave behind the burdens of the world that will be waiting for us when we leave this place, and let us simply dine together with Jesus and with each other as friends. Amen.

 

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