Summary: This is a sermon (used on Maundy Thursday) about how Jesus took common everyday elements and transformed them into powerful means of God
ME – I can relate to the common items Jesus used: salt; light; darkness; coin; fruit; fish; bread and wine! A common everyday item, that Jesus would pull out and talk about and by transformation in a story it would have new meaning!
(Here I had a table (seperate from Holy Communion which was on the altar table) set up with a pitcher of juice, and a cup; a plate with bread on it; and a basin and a pitcher of water). God and Jesus took ordinary symbols, like water which we understand can cleanse our dirty hands (pour water in the basin) and transformed them into the cleansing waters of baptism. Or on a common eveyday table might be a loaf of bread (break a piece off) or some wine to drink (pour juice from the pitcher into a cup, all of these creating an obvious visual). I would eat this bread and drink this juice from this cup, but you might not like me preaching with food in my mouth.
Can you imagine if Jesus was telling parables in our day? Take this emoticon for example: “Blessed are the smiley emoticon”. Well maybe not! Perhaps I had better stick to the symbols that Jesus used! Though i do think that if Jesus lived in our day He would take some common everyday items that we understand and he would transform them into powerful symbols of redemption. Maybe he would use a pawn ticket!
Jesus used ordinary everyday items like a coin: I can think about losing something, and when I need it I search desperately for it! Turning over the cushions on the couch and moving stacks of things and looking under the bed, searching every nook and cranny until I have found it. I can relate that Jesus used a “coin” to talk about searching for the lost. And that the woman would clean out the whole house looking for that lost coin. A common everyday item suddenly was a Gospel message.
I can relate that common symbols of bread and wine, symbols of a Passover meal that reminded the Jewish people of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt were on the table that night in The Upper Room. “Flatbread” as we would call it today, because it did not have time to rise as the people left Egypt in a hurry to escape from Pharaoh. And wine, fruit of the vine, that represented “deliverance” to those who knew the Passover liturgy well. “The Four Cups represent the four expressions of deliverance promised by God Exodus 6:6-7: Listen to these four promises: "I will bring out," "I will deliver," "I will redeem," and "I will take."1
But Jesus took those already common items and transformed them even further!
WE – Have you ever wondered why God chose Bread and Wine to represent Christ body and blood? You might remember that The Bible is filled with these images. Manna from heaven. Passover bread. Forgiveness by the shed blood of the lamb. That wine was a common drink and bread among shared common meal.
There is a story about President Ronald Regan when he “…was in the hospital healing from when he had been shot. One day his Vice President walked in the room to find him on his hands and knees wiping up water. The Vice President said, “Mr. President, they’ll take care of that.” He meant that the people at the hospital would clean it up. All President Reagan had to do was call them and they would hurry in. But the President said, “No, no, if they come in and see it the nurse will be blamed for it. I don’t want the nurse to be blamed. She didn’t do it. I did.”
We have all spilled something in our lives, a common little spill story by The President of The United States, becomes a story of humility that we can all understand that it never hurts for us to clean up our own messes.
We might ask ourselves why did Jesus have to die? Why was it important for him to give us these ordinary symbols to be representative of our faith? Why in the Upper Room did he take items already on the table as a sign of the old covenant, and transform them to represent the new?
GOD – which is what directs our attention to God, and Jesus Christ! That God not only gave us His son Jesus to be the lamb of God that takes away our sins, but He took the common, bread and wine, and transformed them into powerful images that constantly remind us of His love.
Max Lucado tells a story when he was a young single pastor in his first church: We had more of our share of Southern ladies who loved to cook. I fit in well because I was a single guy who loved to eat. Our potlucks were major events.