May 27, 2018

GATHERING

TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)

SAY: Henri Nouwen wrote a book called “The Life of the Beloved”. In it he reflected on those four terms describe what Jesus did with the bread at the last supper:

[SLIDE] “I have found it helpful to use four words: taken, blessed, broken and given. These words summarise my life as a priest because each day, when I come together around the table with members of my community, I take bread, bless it, break it and give it. These words summarise my life as Christian because, as a Christian, I am called to become bread for the world: bread that it taken, blessed, broken and given. Most importantly, however, they summarise my life as a human being because in every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessing, the breading and the giving are happening. I must tell you at this point that these four words have become the most important words of my life.” “The Life of the Beloved” p 41-42

We are going to use those four words - taken, blessed, broken, given, to structure our time together, and we will be reflecting, conversing, and praying around these four aspects as we share bread and wine together.


TAKEN

SAY TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)

SAY: Choose a piece of bread from the plates, and hold it with a napkin.

Think for a moment as you look at your piece of bread - what does it mean that God has taken - or Nouwen prefers the word “chosen” - you?

Henri Nouwen wrote: 

[SLIDE] “From all eternity, long before you were born and became part of history, you existed in God’s heart. Long before your parents admired you or your friends acknowledged your gifs or your teachers, colleagues and employers encouraged you, you were already “chosen”. The eyes of love had seen you as precious, as of infinite beauty, as of eternal value.” “The Life of the Beloved” p. 45

How easy do you find it to believe, deep in your heart, that God has chosen you? Do you have other voices which tell you that you are unimportant, or an accident, or worthless? How do you react to the idea that you are “precious, of infinite beauty, of eternal value”?

Reflect on the following scriptures as they cycle around, and allow them to go from your head to your heart.


BLESSED

TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)

SAY: Next we turn to our second word, that as well as being “chosen” we are “blessed”. Nouwen wrote:

[SLIDE] “Many people, and we too at times, feel like victims of a world we cannot change... We hear an inner voice calling us evil, bad, rotten, worthless, useless, doomed to sickness and death... Still I say to you, as the beloved son [or daughter] of God, you are blessed.” “The Life of the Beloved” p. 61

We are going to take some time to “count our blessings” and give thanks to God, for some of the ways he has blessed us. Think of one thing that you are grateful for in your personal life. Write it on your napkin. After a few moments we will share together the ways that we are blessed and what we are grateful for.


BROKEN

TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)

SAY: Jesus broke the bread, showing us that his body would be broken for us, and for our healing. But the road to our healing in Christ involves us opening up to our own brokenness in order that it may eventually be made whole. Paul says,

[SLIDE] “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all- surpassing power is from God and not from us... We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Cor 4: 7,10)

We are all broken in some way or another - jars of clay, cracked pots. We all bear the wounds of hurts, failures, and disappointments. As we open up to our brokenness we can fully enter into Christ’s brokenness for us. We can take up our cross, following the man of sorrows, knowing that 

[SLIDE] “just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Cor 1:5)

Break your piece of bread. Think about an area of brokenness in your own life. It may be something you just need to be honest about before him - a hurt, a disappointment, a fear. Take a moment to talk to God about it.

[Pause 1 minute for people to do this]

There also could be somethings you need to confess to God, and receive his forgiveness. Take moment to confess your failings to God.

[Pause 1 minute for people to do this]

Eat one of your pieces of bread, thankful that Jesus has died in our brokenness and promises us wholeness. Feed on Christ and know his broken body nourishing your hungry soul.

Jesus said at the last supper:

[SLIDE] “Drink from this, all of you, This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-28)

Speak the words as you pass the cup:

[SLIDE] “The blood of Christ, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of your sin.”

[Pass cup(s) of wine or juice with napkins to wipe the edge.]


GIVEN

TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)

SAY: Once he had broken the bread, Jesus gave it to the disciples. He gave his life for the whole world. Jesus has chosen me and you, and as we live in him he gives us as a gift to the world.

Nouwen wrote: 

[SLIDE] “It is only as people who are given that we can fully understand our being chosen, blessed and broken. In the giving it becomes clear that we are chosen, blessed and broken not simply for our own sakes, but so all that we live finds its final significance in its being lived for others.” “The Life of the Beloved” p. 84

Where is God calling you to give yourself for the sake of others? Where is your area of ministry and sacrifice? Take a minute to listen to God.

[Pause for 1 minute for people to do this]

Look at your second piece of bread. Imagine that this represents the offering you make in giving yourself for the world.

Find another person and give each other your pieces of bread as a symbol of giving yourselves for others. Tell them about the place or situation you feel called to, and pray together that God would work through you wherever you go.

TOGETHER: Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)


Benediction | Aaron

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may seek truth boldly and live from deep within your heart where God’s Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger: at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that we may reach out our hand in comfort and turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that through Jesus Christ we’ll have the strength and power necessary to create change in this world and in our neighborhood, so that together we will courageously try what others claim cannot be done.

May God bless you with remembrance that we are called to continue God’s redemptive work of love and healing in God’s place, in and through God’s name, in God’s Spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch. Amen

Aaron Monts