“Hope of Bread and Cup”

October 6, 2019
Jonathan Rumburg
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:14-18

Introduction

Today is World Communion Sunday— that day when Christians all over the world, come together at our Lord’s Table, to share the bread of life and the cup of salvation.

World Communion Sunday is that day when Christians from all around the world unite their hearts together.

World Communion Sunday is that day when jointly and mutually room is made for any and all…

Oh, who are we kidding?  Togetherness?  Unity, mutual connectedness?  All those concepts and ideas are nice, but can we be serious about believing them?  Can we really take World Communion Sunday Seriously?

Seldom have we experienced a more contentious, conflict-ridden period of time in our lives than what we are living through today.  So why do we even bother to observe this day?

Some churches have given up on it and don’t celebrate World Communion Sunday any longer.  They have chosen to go their own way and leave the rest of us to try to make sense of this day.

But truth be told, in spite of all the disunity around us I’m not ready to give up on World Communion Sunday just yet because I believe it still has value, especially in divisive times like these.  And there are two reasons why I’m not ready to give up on World Communion Sunday.

First, World Communion Sunday is a dream, not a reality.  It is God’s dream and a vision of what the Kingdom of God is meant to be and will one day become.

We must never lose sight of that dream.  This dream of unity is our polar star.  It is what we measure ourselves against.  It is how we know we are lost.  If we lose the dream of unity, then we no longer understand that we are called to a higher way of life.

And secondly, World Communion Sunday is the day that takes what is happening in the world and the day that gives us a way out.  It gives us a way out because this day offers us not only a dream of what will happen one day, but it gives us hope to continue to strive and live toward that day.

Move 1

Our passage of Scripture reminds us of all the ways God has chosen to speak to us.  But out of them all, Jesus Christ is God’s final and ultimate word.  God has nothing to say that is not included within the life, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son.

In fact, this one called Jesus is, in no uncertain terms, our God. “He is the very reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” It was through Jesus that everything was created, not least of which is humanity.  We are the crown of creation.  God made us in God’s own image.  God gave us the ability to do good, to love one another, and to be a blessing to the world.

And yet, the writer of Hebrews admits, something has gone terribly wrong.

Human beings may be the crown of creation, and all of creation may have been given into our control to bless and do good, but we have lost control.  There is something flawed at the core that is frustrating the good we are supposed to be doing, and it is dividing us.

And that something is called sin and it has become part of our very being, and try as hard as we might, we are unable to make this world a place of peace and justice for all.

Our greed, pride, and self-centeredness have resulted in a world of frustration and division.

The world simply cannot be saved by anything human.

If there is ever to be any hope of overcoming this sin that plagues our lives and pollutes our world—then it must come from outside of the human being.

And that is why Jesus came into the world, not as a prophet, but as a Savior.  And he is still coming to us—day after day—helping us overcome the sins we so routinely commit.

And one way he comes is through the hope of bread and cup.

Move 2

Today, right now, in this world so torn apart, are millions of people coming together who, even though we speak different languages, have different skin color, live within different cultures, belong to all points of the socio-economic spectrum, have different points of view on just about everything, are from different political spectrums, and even different Christian perspectives— Despite these differences, we come together and we find our unity in the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus.

We gather to do something that is radical— to confess we are not just humanity, we confess we are sinful humanity.

Every individual who has the courage to come to this table today must come confessing his and her part in the cruelty and coldness that has become the world.

We need look no further than our own strained relationships and how we have contributed to the strain.

We come as those who know we need a Savior.

But today, today we gather around the table with friends and enemies.

We gather around the table with those whom we love as well as those whom we have had a falling out with.

We sit with, at the table, those with whom we have disagreed, gotten angry at, cursed and been cursed by.

At this table we gather with everyone who has blame for our torn apart world, but we do not point fingers at anyone because of their role in making it so.  Instead, everyone gathered at this table today points their finger nowhere but at themselves.  And when we do, that’s when we begin to find the hope of bread and cup.

Move 3

In a world that too often wants to cast responsibility on others, in a word that wants to project all evil upon the enemy and blame all that’s wrong in the world upon the other person, World Communion Sunday instead gathers a people that admit responsibility for wrongs.

We have personally done wrong to others; we have failed to do good for others; we have gone along and allowed the system to oppress others on our behalf.

But as painful as all that is to admit— that admission is our hope.

There is hope for the world so long as there are people who have enough humility and faith to see the truth about themselves and who can then gather together at one table to seek forgiveness and reconciliation from their God and from one another.

Today we join millions of human beings in proclaiming that repentance.  And for that proclamation to lead to unity and hope it must start, not with others, but it must start with ourselves.

That is why World Communion Sunday is still not only relevant today, but is needed more than ever.

Move 4

Yet there is one final reason why we still need to observe this day, and it has to do with our lack of hope in the future.

Those who gather around this table cannot come as a people with no hope.  For as the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: here we see Jesus, not just broken and bloodied, but risen and triumphant.

Hope is the essence of Christianity.

Hope is not based upon the belief that all pain and suffering and divisions are magically ended, but it is based upon the belief that God’s dream of peace on earth, goodwill toward all is still alive.

There is more going on in the world than just human actions.

There are also God actions that are in play.

The world may be out of our control, but it is still in God’s control.  This world is going to be saved.

*******

          The world needs a people who still hope for the future.

The world has too many people who have stopped trying; who have thrown up their hands and said, “What’s the use?” and have allowed themselves to be terrorized and defeated.

But Christians, when we at our best, when we are Christ-like in our words, deeds, and even thoughts, then we are hopeful people!  Hopeful people who have not given up on humanity because we have faith, because we have hope in our God, the one who so loved the world that God gave us God’s only Son—God’s son who invites us to his table to find again and again the hope of bread and cup.

Conclusion

World Communion Sunday is about believing again in the future of the world because we believe God’s dream is greater than the nightmares we create; we believe God’s grace overcomes the sins and divisions we cause; we believe the one who sustains all things by the power of God’s word will have the last Word.

If there was ever a time when we needed the hope of World Communion Sunday—it is now!

So may we unite our hearts with those around the world, and jointly and mutually; truly and seriously, make room for all at our Lord’s table, and share together the bread of life and the cup of salvation.

May we join all Christians, this day, and experience the hope of bread and cup.  Amen.

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