About fifteen years ago, I saw a wonderful movie called Soul Food. The movie was about an African American family in Chicago where the family gathered weekly after church for a meal cooked by the matriarch of the family. The meal was filled with things that I love: fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese- all probably bad for my cholestrol, but so good.
It was this meal that in many ways held the family together, and when Big Momma died the meals and the family were thrown into disarray. The skill and cunning of one grandson was able to get the three sisters together to cook a meal and in time bring the family back together.
The apostle Paul is talking about communion here. In fact, he is going back to an event that he wasn’t around for, the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. The church in Corinth was in turmoil and in many cases forgot what this meal was all about.
For Paul, this meal was about proclaiming Christ, the one who would bring salvation to you, to me and to all of creation. It is also an act of grace. On the night that he shared a meal with the one who would betray him and the one who would deny him. This meal is not one where we have to be good enough to be there. We come as we are, because we need it. We need to know that God is in the business of saving, we need to know that no matter who we are and what we have done, Jesus still shares a meal with us. We need this because you and me and everyone want to be healed. We need this meal because we are hungry and the morsels the world gives us don’t fill us up. We need this meal because it is the place where rich and poor, straight or gay, black or white are one in Christ Jesus. This is the glue that hold us together.
About eight years ago, I went to a family reunion in Lousisana, where my Dad is from. The food there was just like in Soul Food: all bad, but oh so good. That meal brought Sanders from around the country to say hello and come together. The meal was the glue that brought us together.
The meal that brings us together. Remember that tonight, tomorrow and on Sunday.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Photo: My parents and cousin Carolyn at the Sanders family reunion, Pineville, Louisiana, 2006.