An Unlikely Meal

Table Before EnemiesWhen thunder rumbles in the distance and once-fluffy clouds turn menacing, the picnic table is cleared, hamburgers carried into the kitchen.

When the thud of bombs and the piercing whistle of gunfire nears the Middle East village, children whimper and people flee.

And yet this astounding word of unexplainable faith from a writer who knew the onslaught of both nature and enemy:

God, my shepherd…you serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies…
(Psalm 23:4 The Message)

How can this assurance be reality for the writer? For me? From his youth David had learned to trust the God of Israel. Early he expressed that trust through action: Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you… His relationship with the Father was so secure he felt the freedom to question: How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? He along with others heard God’s prescription for strength in the midst of storm: Be still, and know that I am God

Yes, our God is strong enough to serve us the delights of life even when the world around crumbles. Calvin Miller best describes these meals:

In this secluded place I meet a King.
He comes alone to drink reality
with me. Sometimes we talk sometimes we sit
and sip a life that passes by the crowd
as inwardness is born—a felted thing
of power—a commonality—
a union where unmended hopes are knit
where silence roars as quiet sings aloud.
Oh Christ, I love it here!
It is our place…*

*From The Table of Inwardness



“Christians Are Made of a Different Substance”

Cross in ChurchIt wasn’t a bomb—even “the mother of all bombs—that captivated the television commentator’s attention. It wasn’t the promise of a president or the sight of a goose stepping military phalanx. It wasn’t the sight of parading protestors of even of praying believers. No, the well-known Egyptian Muslim journalist* listened in stunned and rapt silence to the widow of a man killed in recent church bombings. Through her tears, she expressed her faith, her prayer that God would forgive the perpetrators of the tragedy and that she herself forgave them.

He, trained to be an objective observer and reporter of fact, was forced to say with awe in his voice and perplexity on his face, “Egyptian Christians are made of steel…how great is the amount of forgiveness you have…these people have so much forgiveness…if it was my father, I could never say this…these (Christians) are made of a different kind of substance.”

And that’s why we have Easter. That’s why Jesus could say, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” That’s why we are called to proclaim and practice the same forgiveness. Yes, we are “made of a different kind of substance.” The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you (Romans 8:11), and so—impossible as it seems to human understanding—the call upon us is as great as was the call upon Him: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

*Forgiveness Incarnated on Vimeo

Maundy Thursday

Maunday ThursdayIn three hours we will sit in a quieted church sanctuary preparing for the Maundy Thursday service. This beautiful commemoration of Christ’s meeting with his disciples for the last time before his trial and crucifixion wasn’t a part of my religious tradition, but it has become one of the most meaningful events of my faith walk. Derived from a Latin word meaning command, maundy refers to Jesus’ words as he ate his final meal with his friends: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

He had just demonstrated the culturally astounding kind of love he was talking about when, without fanfare, he carried out the role of the lowest servant in a household: washing the dusty feet of his disciples, even one who would soon deny that he ever knew Jesus and another who would, with a traitor’s kiss, identify this Lord as the one to be crucified.

Last times, events, experiences become especially meaningful after the death of a loved one. “Remember the Christmas when…?” “This would have been his twenty first birthday…” “She always loved going for dinner on our anniversary.” And in the same manner this “last supper” is celebrated around the world among followers of Christ. Not because he is dead but because he lives!

The celebration goes by many names—eucharist, communion, blessing, Lord’s Supper—but when we eat the bread and drink from the cup with a sense of the holy, we are transported back to that upper room where questioning, sorrowful, confused disciples sat with Jesus. He had warned them about what was to come but in no way did they understand the horror that lay ahead. This one last time they gathered with the friend they love and with whom they’d walked for three years.

Tonight we too sit and contemplate–often confused, questioning and sorrowful–this one we love.