All You Need to Remember Is…Who’s at the Table

What do you remember when you get home from church? What should you?  The music, the message, the prayers, the company (of friends). The hardness of the seat, the time, the announcements (yea, right). Hardly anything, nothing. Oh my. Remembering’s important. If you have a problem with it, live with or care for someone who does, you know just how important! When I was a kid, and my dad was on the warpath, one clear sign, “Young man, you’d better remember just who you’re talking to.” Or, “Young man, you’d better remember just who (or whose) you are!” Across this month, coming to Thanksgiving Memories of all God’s blessings, let’s focus on what we really need to remember… through faith. Let’s begin with who’s at the table, when we come to the Table of the Lord. Remember this, get this, and you may never be the same.

Jesus. Jesus is at the Table! The actual, living, forgiving Jesus! Something so unforgettable, we dare not fail to remember! Many’s the time, for most of us. Maybe today, the first, for someone among us, we get to dine with Jesus. Be with Jesus. Get up right next to Jesus! In the bread. (Don’t ask how.) In the cup. (Don’t ask how.) In that shaft of air between you and your neighbor. He’s there, right up next to everything you screwed up this week. There, right alongside everything messed up or over that has seeped down deep inside you. ‘To the marrow of your bones, and the soft tissue of your soul. There where you are sin-soaked and sorrow-worn, is Jesus. The bread to sop up the sin, the cup to pour out on all the sorrow. John wrote rightly, “Having loved his own in the world, he loves (ed.) them to the end.” (13: 1)  That’s us. O, he is there, here. Be open to that, and it’s as though his outstretched arm on the cross is now draped over and resting on you; he will embrace you. He’ll put his arm around everything and every one you refuse to forgive. And he will whisper in your own ear, just moments from now. “You are forgiven. I have forgiven you. Forgive whom you have not. Pardon what you’d rather not. Receive what you have not… my peace, given not as the world gives, but only as I give. Friend, you can’t hold my body and your anger and enmity in your hands, both at the same time. So take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy, my burden light.”

Make room. Deep down, I wish it weren’t so. But it is. Too much of “church” is forgettable! Remember this, you and Jesus are at the table, and all the saints, and all your ghosts are with you, too.

The Saints. And our own ghosts, holy and otherwise. Jesus insists they’re all here. Who brought you to the Table for the first time? If you’re here today with somebody, lean over right now and share with them. Give the name(s). Mom, Dad, Grandma/pa, my friend, Pastor…, whoever. And who brought them. And them… to the start. They’re all here. Jesus never lets go of them, nor they of us. “I have kept and guarded them in Your name, and none is lost [but one, Judas].”  (Jn. 17: 12) Remember more broadly, how many hearts have touched you, to make you who you are? Everyone, invited to Christ’s table. But there are others here, too. The ghosties and the beasties of Halloween-just-happened are not all make-believe. Some are very real indeed. People and things have haunted us all. And we need not believe in horned devils with red tails and pitchforks to know that it’s so. Somebody bugs you, hurts you, haunts you, hounds you. Some circumstances do the same. Some confess, ask forgiveness, try to change. Others not. Either way, they’ll come down the aisle beside you today and take their place. The same Christ who died for you died for them, too. Sometimes I don’t like that. ‘Want to push them away, or at least aside. But Jesus says and shows otherwise. At best I question it. At worst, resent it. But there it is. And my need for the bread and cup come clearer. And Christ’s word in my ear rings louder. “As I do for you, do for each other!’” What do you hear when you come forward? And what do you see?

Jesus, here. Yes. The saints. The ghosts, holy and not-so-much! How do you see Jesus, when you come? Are his hands still a little damp? His sleeves a little drippy? Maybe a big-ole splashy place on his robe? Even a little stinky-feet-juice just layin’ on his own tired ankles? And all from washin’ feet. And can’t you hear him sayin’, “If I, your Lord, have washed your feet, you oughta wash one another's feet. I’ve given you the example and… a new commandment. Love one another as I’ve loved you. By this everyone can see: you belong to me!” (Jn. 14) Bummer! This meal

ain’t free. There’s a cost to you and me! We are commanded (not just suggested, guided or urged): love one another. ‘Turns out you can’t be true to Christ and not good, kind, helpful, dignity-surrendering, even self-sacrificing to me. And vice versa, all across the Community. Don’t forget, Jesus is sayin’ this to the rest when 1 brother went to betray him, 2 more were arguin’ over who was best and the other 9 couldn’t-stand-either-one at the moment and just needed a rest! This table IS grace, but it’s also a TRIAL… if only we remember just who’s at the table. Jesus, the Saints, the Ghosts, the Give-Me-a-Break followers, as flawed as ourselves.

And one more bunch. The Unseen, but Not Uninvited; unexpected but not uncared-for by Christ! To help us remember, and see, truly see, Jesus tells a story. The rich guy and the poor both die. Poor Lazarus: to heaven. Ole Reggie Rich, well… he complains he’s hot, burnin’, parched. “Send down Lazarus with relief,” he asks. “I don’t think so,” he hears. “Reggie, don’t you remember when poor ole Lazarus used to lie right outside your front gate? You wouldn’t even give him the crumbs off your table! Lazarus: filled with sores you didn’t see and wouldn’t even look at. Your dogs used to come and lick his sores! You used to be up, Lazarus down. Now God’s turned things upside down. And the ditch God’s dug between heaven and hell: nobody can cross!” Whoa! Reggie built a best-neighborhood McMansion. But without soul-windows! He never saw the suffering at his own front gate. ‘Didn’t see. ‘Maybe, wouldn’t look. I admitted just weeks ago, I’ve always found the doggy-deal in this story pretty gross. Who needs it? We do! Like Reggie, we don’t or won’t see as kindly or clearly as our pet pooch! In Christ’s parable, the mutt shows more compassion than the man! Like Reggie Rich: our sin’s not our wealth, it’s our oft’ windowless souls! We never see the Lazarus- folks right at our gate, our feet, in our path. We never see them as a person and a child of God! ‘Invited to the Banquet Table. “Go and compel them to come in,” says Jesus. Yet we never see Christ dies for them, as for us! But I tell you, at this Table they are there. Places saved. Will we see… and remember… and care?

Wanna go home moved today? All you need remember is… who’s at the Table: Jesus! The Saints. Our own Host o’Ghosts. Flawed Followers like ourselves. The Unnoticed! We all belong to Christ!

To each other. And Christ belongs to all of us!

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