From the Pastor – Breaking Bread and Barriers

Pastor’s Pondering

As I mentioned in my Pastor’s Report in the May edition of our Grace Notes, over the coming weeks we’re going to dive into Jesus’ practice of breaking bread and breaking barriers at the table. Part of my inspiration for this sermon series is an April 2022 essay by Diana Butler Bass titled “The Holy Thursday Revolution.” In that essay, Bass asks, “What if the table is the point?”

A second source of inspiration for this series is R. Alan Street’s book Subversive Meals. In chapter five, Street explores how Jesus used the meal settings in Luke’s Gospel as an opportunity to encourage people to adopt egalitarian meal practices that reflected the ethics of God’s kingdom.

This Sunday our scripture from Luke 5:27-39 tells the story from the first meal in Luke’s Gospel. In this passage Jesus invited the tax collector Levi to follow him.  “Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” (V. 28) Then we’re told that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus at his house and that there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with Jesus. This caused a disturbance. When the Pharisees and scribes observed this, they complained to Jesus’ disciples. They asked, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

This Sunday, we’ll reflect together on Jesus’ response to the question, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?” What does his response mean to us in today’s world? Is the church a hotel for saints or a hospital for sinners?” Do we require repentance before association? Do we offer acceptance without a call to repentance? These are just a few questions Jesus’ statement raises for his followers today.

Lastly, in the coming weeks of the adult Sunday School class, we’ll dive deeper into the historical and cultural background of Jesus’ meal practices within the context of first-century Roman domination. We’ll discover how Jesus’ meal practices broke 1st century barriers. We’ll also discover how the Christian communal meal looked like a typical Roman banquet but was essentially different. We’ll discover how the early Christian meals became an act of non-violent resistance to the Roman Empire.  I invite you to participate in the adult Sunday school class as I believe it will deepen your understanding of the biblical text and prepare you to further apply the message found in Luke’s Gospel in your life.

See you tomorrow,

Pastor David

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