Summary: A Maundy Thursday sermon about Holy Communion
Sign, Bread, Wine = Body & Blood
The following is adapted from the book Iowa Parables by Jerry Schmalenberger.
"In August of 1900 more than 250 hobos, tramps and freeloaders came by train to a little northwest Iowa town for their first annual National Hobo Convention. They ate free food, drank free beer stayed in free accommodations, played games, drew up a political platform and nominated a candidate for the 1900 Presidential election. We are speaking about a tradition that is repeated even to this day-the Annual Hobo Days in Britt Iowa.
This is an Iowa Parable. The people of Britt have been inviting the hobos, the bums, the free loaders to Britt each year not because they deserve it, not because in some way they have earned it, they get their free food and drink, this special treatment because they are hobos nothing more."
All sorts of conventions happen across this vast country each day, but the annual Hobo Convention at Britt is different, they didn’t deserve it, ask for it or encourage it. It was given freely. Freely given to hobos who haven’t worked, who are lazy, crude, dirty, dishonest, who have been arrested in freight yards, chased out of public parks, and rousted for vagrancy. But in Britt, for one weekend, the hobos, the freeloaders, the roustabouts are kings an celebrate their humanity. For a brief time they are loved for who they are, fellow human beings who celebrate their humanity and its worthwhileness for one brief weekend.
"And he took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise the cup after supper saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.,’
Jesus says come and eat all is ready, come not because you deserve it, not because you have earned it, come because it is freely given. Yes, like it or not, we come to this supper as the Hobos come to Britt. We come not deserving but accepting. We come to this grace banquet to celebrate God’s victory, not ours. We come to celebrate our humanity in Christ. ’Whose we are’ not how are we doing. We come, we are invited by God through Christ to come and eat an and drink not because we are so great, but because the great love God has for us. We come though we have ignored God, turned against him, cursed him, used him, taken advantage of him, become angry with Him. He still invites us, He still accepts us at His table, as we are.
We come, because of Christ as forgiven people, who are nourished, renewed and refreshed as we celebrate our humanity in Christ who has freed us from ourselves. We come not as perfect people, but as forgiven people. Here we come in celebration of the imperfect--those who make mistakes, stray from the straight and narrow, foul up relationships, offended, tramp on toes, blow the whole thing. We come in celebration as we live in our brokenness, our low self-esteem, our questions, our feelings of unfairness with life, we come not as people who have control of life but as people who have lost control, and have surrendered life to Christ. We come as people who are sorry for our mistakes and are tired of running our lives by ourselves. We come as people who are celebrating the grace of God through the body and blood of Christ.
We come as the Hobos to Britt to begin to feel good about ourselves, to be people who can be accepting of our humanity because it is indeed a gift from God.
We come, we eat and drink, as undeserving people, people who wander between being enemies of God or friends depending on who is controlling our lives. Remember that even Judas ate and drank from the table, from the bread and wine. Judas who betrayed Jesus, Judas who Jesus knew to be the one who would turn Him over to the Romans, he was not excluded from the table, he ate, he drank.
From Preaching Helps it says, "Judas was there. Judas took the bread and the cup, the body and blood, shed for him. Here we have Jesus and his betrayer sharing the sacred meal "
Again and again the scene is repeated, we come to the table as those who betray Jesus, as His enemies, we come as we are forgiven and welcomed. The table is not excluded from anyone, because it does not depend on our merit, our work, our lives, our actions, the supper is a free gift from God to us. It depends on His action through Christ not ours.