Reflection April 23rd, 2023
Acts 2:14a, 36-42/ Psalm 116/ Luke 24:13-35
Community of Breaking Bread
While reading today’s scriptures, I imagined what it would have been like at the Last Supper, teacher and disciples sharing a Passover meal. I have dated a Jewish person, so I have been to a Passover meal. It was 3 hours long and we had to drink 5 glasses of wine. I don’t drink that much, so I switched to grape juice in the middle. There was a lot of storytelling and conversation. I haven’t witnessed or experienced this level of connection at a meal table even before the invention of smart phones.
But we don’t have to experience a Jewish Sabbath dinner or Passover meal to understand that meal table is where we share fellowship and love. Meal table is so much more than just food. Sitting at a meal table together means we accept each other. Could you sit at the table with someone you don’t like or can’t stand? Can you imagine the indigestion that could hit you? We love food, and sharing food has the power to develop connection and friendship. Today’s keyword is bread and we read two biblical stories in which sharing food created miracles, but not the supernatural kind.
Walking to Emmaus
We start with the story in Luke’s Gospel because, chronologically, it comes before the events in the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus died. His disciples were grieving and traumatized. We met two disciples who didn’t hear that Jesus came back to life. For an unknown reason, they were traveling to a place called Emmaus. To process the shock and grief, they talked things over, when a stranger meets them and walks with them. They must have had a meaningful conversation, because when they reached their destination, they invited the stranger in to stay with them.
Of course, this stranger was Jesus but the disciples did not recognize him. Jesus blessed the bread and they shared a meal. Then, their eyes were open and they knew who their guest was. They might have said to each other, “Wait, don’t you think that man feels like… our teacher?” They recalled how their hearts were burning as the strange companion on the road was explaining scripture to them. But by then, he was mysteriously gone.
Let us note that these two disciples did two things to make their eyes open. First, they took the trouble to invite the stranger in for hospitality. Second, they broke bread together. This story teaches us that what gives us true sight is our willingness for hospitality and sharing meals together. These two things are what Jesus taught all through his ministry. We are taught to open our hearts and doors and meal table to others.
Forming the Early Church Community
We heard during today’s story time what the disciples did after the resurrection, and even after the ascension of Jesus. And spoiler alert, Pentecost happens at the beginning of Acts chapter 2. What we read today was after receiving the Holy Spirit and after Peter bravely preaches to the stunned crowd. His sermon moved people’s hearts and they asked, “What should we do?” Upon Peter’s recommendation, they repented and were baptized.
According to Acts chapter 2, three thousand people were baptized and joined the community of the disciples. This was the birth of the Christian Church. But among all this miraculous event, let us focus on verse 42 that is not included in today’s designated scripture reading list but I added. I added this verse because it is the most important part of the story.
What did they do after joining the community? “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” It says in the last part of chapter 2 that they lived together and shared everything. This is another story about what happens to those who break bread together. Breaking bread together was crucial to the life of the first church community. With the spirit of breaking bread, they lived a life sharing everything and focusing on being the disciples of Jesus. That is why the symbolic meal of the Holy Communion is essential to the Christian life even today.
Community of Breaking Bread Together
By sharing bread together, through our Holy Communion, we are reminded that we are one with Christ and with each other. As we are invited to share a symbolic meal at the communion table, we are also taught to welcome each other in our lives and share our lives, both our joys and troubles. Through sharing bread together, we are taught about God’s steadfast and faithful love for us and are invited to share that love with one another. We are the community of Christ’s disciples and family. We are a community of breaking bread and sharing lives. That is why we give thanks to God and sing, “How can I repay you, God, for all the goodness you show to me?”
How can we repay God for all the goodness we received? We aspire to love one another with the same love, that’s how. As we learn about the first Church community being formed, let us remember where we come from, spiritually. Let us remember that we are a community, a spiritual family. We share one loaf to remind ourselves that we are one body of Christ. And as members of the one body of Christ, we must commit to what I call “the kingdom lifestyle,” a lifestyle of living out the compassionate love based on justice. Let us consider all God’s people as our siblings. Let us help those who are in need, comfort those who are sad, and help the marginalized know that they are loved and valued. As we give thanks to God for all the love and blessing we have received, let us share our blessing with all God’s creation with our acts of love.