Sunday, October 06, 2019

Creating a Radical Community in Jesus' Name

John 15:1-17 by Rev. Susan Lukey
Series:Journey to the Heart of God - All about Relationships!

Now there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for we are one in Christ! I think it is hard for us, in the 21st century to understand just how radical those words would have been in the 1st century, when Paul was writing to the church at Galatia. These are transformative words also meant to challenge us as we follow the Way. Today we are coming to the communion table to share the bread and the cup. Imagine what this would have been like for the followers of Jesus, 2,000 years ago. First of all, they shared this meal every time they gathered. And they actually sat down together at a big table. Everyone brought some bread (flat bread) from home and some wine, and it was all put on the table –like a potluck. All the wine was poured into a large bowl-like container – good and bad wine mixed together. All the bread heaped on one platter. Once the words, “This is my body; this is my blood; do this in remembrance of me,” were declared by the presider, everyone ate their fill. It wasn’t the little sip of juice and little piece of bread that we share. It was much more like our Soup & Bun or Simple Suppers. Everyone ate their fill. No one went home hungry. Those who had more, brought more, but everyone brought something. The commitment that followers of Jesus made to each other was that they would share everything in common so that no one was in need. They took care of each other! They committed their resources to one another. Now I want you to picture who was at that table. Jew and Gentile, Roman citizens and their slaves, men and women – all sitting together. This is the absolutely radical thing about the church of Jesus at its beginnings. At other tables in the Roman Empire at the time, these people would not sit together. Men and women, especially at Roman banquet tables normally would not be seated together. Men would have their own tables, and women would be set apart or doing the serving. Within Jewish households, the family would eat together, but out in public, men did not speak to or associate with women who they were not married to or related to. Similarly, slaves had their place in society, and did not share a meal with their masters. Jewish people and Gentile people would not interact, except for limited required transactions, such as paying taxes. Paul is writing to a church in the middle of Roman territory – the church in Galatia, in what is present day Turkey. Paul is telling them that once they are committed to following the Way of Jesus, like us, then all of those traditional cultural and religious boundaries are wiped away. Everyone sits at the same table together.
Duration:11 mins 24 secs