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My Teacher and Me, We Made Bread
Dr. Bruce Lancaster
November 15, 2015
Matthew 5:6; 6:11; 5:9; 6:9
From the Gospel of Matthew:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Give us this day our daily bread…”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”
Sometimes, when we come to the table, we get so caught up in making sure we say the right words, setting the table with everything in its proper place, who does what and all with the proper religious etiquette‒we’re so involved with table manners that we don’t think about why this table matters.
In a few weeks we’ll be gathered around various tables, with the smells and tastes of turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie, good china and family conversations, followed by a good nap‒So when Jesus talks about hunger and thirst‒well, we want to make sure we’re comfortably full.
But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
The blessings are not for being comfortably full, but for the hunger and the thirst for why this table matters‒the righteousness of God.
Eugene Petersen in his interpretation of this Beatitude puts it this way, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.”
I like that‒to think about coming to this table with an appetite for God because that’s why this table matters.
As we gather around this table today, we are sadly aware of those tables in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, in Austin, in your neighborhood where there is an empty place….
Those tables where mourning has become an everyday item being served, the violence that bears us away.
And that brings us back to this table–where we would come with an appetite for God and join in the company of the blessed.
Because that’s what Matthew is doing with these blessings‒describing the people, the community that has entered a way of life hungry and thirsty to do God’s will, to be peacemakers, to be the blessing.
As Alden Solovy wrote in his poem, “Being a Blessing”:
If you ask for rest, I will sit with you.
If you ask for comfort, I will stay with you.
If you ask for hope, I will yearn with you.
If you ask for love, I will sing with you.
If you ask for stillness, I will breathe with you.
If you ask for peace, I will dream with you.
If you ask for joy, I will laugh with you.
If you ask for healing, I will pray with you.
If you ask for warmth, I will become a blanket.
If you ask for refuge, I will become a shelter.
If you ask for help, I will become a blessing.
Because the bread we receive at this table is a profound reminder of how much God cares, and we realize that our hunger and thirst will not let us stand by the side, uncaring, while men and women and children suffer and die, and are starving for justice and love.
Jesus’ question is for you and me, “If a child asks for bread, do we give a stone?”
Do we serve stones of silence as the children of the world are crying for bread, for life?
The world sobs‒voices filled with hurt and pain everywhere, voices choked out by suffering and voices that come out of throbbing terror.
There are hollow voices, empty voices, voices of motherless children and of sorrowing women and of desperate men.
Do we carefully sift out the shouting, selectively ignore the screaming, the voices of rage and of protest, of defiance and of contempt?
This table matters because we are given the privilege, as the Confession of Belhar says: God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation, that we are called blessed because we are peacemakers.
This appetite for God involves other people and peacemaking is not always that appetizing, because sometimes they smell like sin and taste like bad apples in the bunch.
We know that because deep down we know that we are not as different from others as we like to pretend.
Our anger is the same kind of anger that divides people. Our jealousies and fears and prejudices are the same kinds that lead people to oppress the poor, crush the meek, persecute the righteous, and spread violence around the world and in our streets.
Yes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but those things that make for peace…who does Jesus think we are‒we can’t just go to IKEA and wend our way through the maze of chairs and desks and bedroom suites and Swedish meatballs and find our way to some back corner and there it is‒a box marked peace with all the things that make for peace included, and especially, the direction for making peace!
But we can come to this table and find bread.
Bread, the basis of the food we eat, bread for toast, bread for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bread for bread pudding‒and bread that is broken and shared in communion with one another.
A father was talking to his son on the way home from church one Sunday and asked him, “What did you do in Sunday School?”
The little boy replied, “My teacher and me, we made bread; and I ate mine already, and it was good!”
Like a little child, born in Bethlehem (the House of Bread is what Bethlehem means) ‒Where the empty are filled, and the filled are emptied; in a kingdom where all who kneel and hold out their hands are fed the bread of heaven, the bread of life, the bread of peace, the bread of faith and hope and love.
My teacher and me, we made bread…
That’s why this table matters‒our teacher, our Lord, our Savior, the one who call us his friend‒At this table, we take bread and eat bread in remembrance of that night when Jesus sat with his friends at table, and broke the bread and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body broken for you.”
We share the blessing of righteousness as we accept his call to peacemaking‒that’s what it is to make bread with our teacher: to be the blessing for the poor, those who mourn, those who go hungry, those whose lives are wrecked by other people’s cruelty and violence, to be free to live for each other, to heal and help and bless each other.
This table matters, for it holds the daily bread of the gospel that redeems evil through forgiveness and love…eat yours already, for it is good!
TO GOD BE THE GLORY.