“Are You Hungry?” Message from World Communion Sunday
Scripture: Matthew 26: 26-30 and Luke 24: 28-32
One Sunday morning, a little girl walked forward to receive Holy Communion. The communion server gave her a piece of bread and said, “The Body of Christ, given for you.” The little girl was disappointed with the size of her piece of bread and responded to the communion server “That’s it? I want more!” Her parents were awfully embarrassed, but this little girl expresses a hunger that should be deep within us; a hunger for the bread and the cup, for the bread of life, for Jesus. Are you hungry this morning?
Every time I hear the reading of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples, in the synoptic Gospels, which is a Greek term meaning “to see together”, they are the similar Gospels of Matthew, Mark or Luke, I can’t help but wonder if the disciples were hungry? Certainly they were. It was the celebration of Passover, where they celebrated God’s mighty acts of salvation. They gathered around that Passover table, as brothers in faith, and shared in a holiday meal.
We all have fond memories of holiday meals. We stuff ourselves with turkey at one, ham at another and marshmallow peeps at the other one, maybe that’s just me. Certainly there’s great food and great company. That’s how we celebrate. Yet we keep coming back to the table for more, more conversation and more food. This week I met with leaders in our small group ministry here at Meridian Street. It was a great joy to hear what the small groups are doing together. Do you know what was most common between them all? Food! That’s right, every single small group gathered around food, a common meal. There’s something special about a meal that keeps us coming back for more. Food changes our conversation. Bread changes our lives.
After the disciples had their fill after the holiday meal, Jesus did this most extraordinary thing. He took a loaf of bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples. Again, you have to wonder that at this point in the meal, were they even hungry? But you can’t ignore such a moment when Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” I’m sure they were glued to every word and every movement of the first Communion. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “This is my blood for the forgiveness of sins.”
In the midst of this celebration of what God had done for them at Passover and beyond, Jesus adds his own remembrance, his own celebration, of what he would offer to his disciples and all of humanity. He would offer us all himself, his body, his blood, his life. He told them to remember. I’m sure the disciples hungered for more that night.
After the resurrection of Jesus, we read of encounters that people had with Jesus. One such encounter in the Gospel of Luke, finds two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. On this road they encounter a person who was walking too. They urged the man walking to stay with them, as the day was nearly over. So the man agrees and stays with them. After a long day of walking, what would be their natural response? It was time to eat! I’m sure they were all hungry. When they sat down at the table, the man who walked with them took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them.
Does that sound familiar? The resurrected Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” The men were hungry for food and they ended up receiving the bread of life. In the activity of their day, they hadn’t recognized Jesus among them, but when they paused to satisfy their hunger, they were able to truly see Christ. In Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist (which is a Greek word that means Thanksgiving), our eyes our opened again to the majesty, holiness, love, grace and fullness of our Lord. We realize that we have a hunger in our lives. The men realized that they had a hunger. It wasn’t for food alone, it was for Jesus himself. Are you hungry this morning? Not for the food that can only fill the stomach, no, I’m referring to the food that will fill your soul.
Every time we come forward for Holy Communion, we bring with us all that we are, our sin, our anger, our fear, our doubt, and we offer them all to Christ, who in turn, offers us himself. At the table, Jesus offers us his body, the bread; his blood, the cup; and gives us unmerited love, grace, forgiveness and salvation. This is the best meal that can be offered. Fr. John Wesley described the Lord’s Supper as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God”. Fr. John even wrote of the duty of constant communion, “If we consider the Lord’s Supper as a command of Christ, no one can have any pretence to Christian piety (or devotion), who does not receive Holy Communion (not once a month, but) as often as he can.” My soul is hungering more and more for this meal. Are you hungry?
Today we unite with Christians around the world who are communing with Christ along with our congregation. On World Communion Sunday, a hungry world comes to a filling meal. We hunger for the best food, for the best things, for the very best life, not realizing that our eyes, our lives and our souls are opened in this spiritual food and drink in Holy Communion. Saint Augustine said, “Christ is the bread, awaiting hunger.” If you are hungry for community, Christ invites you to this table. If you are thirsting for hope, Jesus welcomes you to this table. If you need forgiveness, the Messiah forgives you at this table. If you are hungry for the grace of God, then eat this bread and taste this cup.
That night long ago, when Jesus sat with his disciples, he began not just a ritual of remembrance, not just a symbolic historical act; he offered an opportunity to be filled with the forgiveness and grace of God in himself. He sat with his followers who followed and questioned,
who worshipped and doubted. I’m thankful for that questioning bunch of followers. Peter would deny Jesus and he was at the table. Judas would give Jesus up to the authorities and he was at the table. The other disciples would run in fear after this very meal, yet Jesus offered them all and us all his body and blood.
When I get hungry, yes, I move toward the refrigerator or the cupboard or Graters Ice Cream down the street. We search for that perfect special meal that never fully satisfies. There’s only been one meal in my life that has filled me up time and again. When I feel empty, broken, dirty and sinful, I come to this table and I’m refreshed, renewed, filled and forgiven. All you really need is a hunger when you come to the table. That’s the only requirement. God provides the meal; we provide the hunger, the desire, the need to receive.
This table is a place we must come to again and again to remember who we are and to remember what we should hunger for. It’s a meal and a celebration too amazing to truly comprehend, yet we are invited to keep coming to this meal, to eat of this holy mystery, where in some way, we meet the risen Lord with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in this act of eating, in a meal of bread and a cup. We come hungry waiting to be filled. All we can do is recognize our hunger, come forward, and be filled by the grace of God found in the ordinary elements of bread and the cup, ordinary elements that make us extraordinary people. Are you hungry friends? I am starving this morning. I have a hunger for more of God, for a meal that satisfies and sustains. Are you hungry? Let’s eat! May we recognize our hunger for God. May we be filled by the bread of life. Amen.