By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
We continue our Via Transformativa theme of “You Crack Me Up!” During this quarter, we’ll be exploring how the Holy “cracks” us open to reveal the true divine, spirit that dwells within each of us.
This week, we explored how the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit broke through into our world, can help us break open our egoic shell and allow our authentic, divine self emerge.
From the Jesus story: John 16:7-15: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth
From the Christian Scriptures: Acts 2:1-13: “They are filled with new wine.”
From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 15: … all are invited and made welcome.
Song used in the sermon: Room at the Table by Carrie Newcomer
“What does this mean?” was probably what Jesus’ disciples were thinking as they gathered with him for the Passover feast.
In our reading this morning, Jesus is telling them about the future – about a time when he would no longer be here in body – something that, by itself, would be stressful enough for the disciples to hear. But, he confuses them further by saying that if he doesn’t go away, then the Holy Spirit will not be able to come into the world. That Spirit, he says, will be our teacher when he’s no longer around, communicating from God to the divinity within all of us.
Communication is the entire function of the Holy Spirit. It is, as A Course in Miracles says, “our right mind.” When we are in spirit – or inspired – then no words, no earthly form of communication is needed – we are truly communing with God through the spirit. Some call this enlightenment. Others may call it being enraptured, or caught up, or in the flow. Those moments when we seem to be transported outside of ourselves – those are Pentecost moments when the Holy Spirit whooshes in on us.
Jesus is telling his disciples that he cannot properly communicate God’s message through his body. Instead, spirit is necessary for true communication, but his body has become a hindrance to them, keeping them from realizing their true, divine state. “I still have many things to say to you,” he told them, “but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, it will guide you into all the truth.”
How can we begin to feel that spirit move within us? By making room at the table for everyone. Tables have a special place for Jesus, because it’s where he invited the outcast, the marginalized and the hated of his society to meet him communion – in community – in true communication.
At table, we are invited to form community with those who may be different from us in culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, political views, religious belief or any other category we use to divide the world up into “us” and “them.” At table, we must cooperate to share the meal with everyone. At table, we must be willing to put down the weapons our ego always wants to deploy to protect its ideas, beliefs and values and be willing to create peace.
At table, we must open ourselves to be nourished not just by the food we exchange but by the stories and intimacy with the “other” that we can encounter there.
This last supper table was the place where Jesus tried his best to get it through the disciples’ heads that there is room at the table for everyone. At that table sat people who loved Jesus deeply and would give their lives for him. But, also, at that table was the one who would sell him out for a few silver coins, another that would deny he even knew him (on three separate occasions, no less), others who would sleep while Jesus went through his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane and still others who would scatter to the winds at the first sign of trouble. Among the people dearest to Jesus’ heart were those most addicted to their own egos. But, Jesus made room for all of them, and this table is his insistence that we, too, must make room in our lives for everyone at our table — be they friend, foe, stranger or betrayer (or all of the above).
In what we call “The Lord’s Supper,” which was created and institutionalized from this account of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, we find the ultimate lesson in welcoming all of creation to our table. Traditional readings of this ritual tell us that Jesus was referring only to himself when says “This is my body,” or “This is my blood,” but Jesus was talking about all of us when he said these words.
During this meal, Jesus is saying, “You are all me, because there is only one of us here.” So, when Jesus takes the bread and says, “This is my body,” he’s not being exclusive. The Greek word he uses, mou, while it can mean “my” it also means, “of me.” What he’s saying then is, “This bread is of me,” and if the bread, which is made of all the very earthly things such as grain, dirt, rain, manure and sunshine, if “of” him then it is also of us. Likewise, he says the wine — the very earthly fruit of the vine, also nurtured by the elements — is “of me.”
At this table, Jesus told his disciples that everything in this world is “of me” and if that’s true, then everything that was Jesus is “of us” as well. In this meal, Jesus is telling us that we cannot make any person, creature, plant or atom in this universe unwelcome because it is all part of us. There is room at the table, Jubilants, because there is but one table, and one of us sits at it – a unified whole in many seemingly different bodies. The table is set. All are welcome.
Here’s your assignment this week: I invite you, Jubilants, to celebrate this holy day of Pentecost, not just today, but every day. Remind yourself that the spirit of unity has come into this world and seeks to speak through us in every moment. Be filled with new wine this week and speak and live that spirit of unity in the world so we can all say: Oh, Yeah!”