Happy ninth day of Christmas, Y’all@
On the ninth day of Christmas, Yahweh gives to us: a Feast.
Have you feasted this Christmas season? Even without being able to gather with family and friends, did you make or order in a special meal? One of the things I miss most in this pandemic is being able to gather with others for a meal. My grandmother instilled in me a love for feeding people and my culinary skills are at their best when I’m cooking large amounts (and even after all this time I still don’t feel I’ve mastered cooking for two).
Jesus speaks often of feasts and banquets. He fed thousands of people with one sack lunch. His last moments with his disciples before he is arrested are spent eating the feast of Passover, a remembrance feast of God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
And at this feast he commissioned us to remember/ponder/consider/think about him, God with us, being among us as we are, getting hungry and eating, hurting with us, celebrating with us, living the ordinary days with us, whenever we eat bread and drink wine.
The bread and the wine that Jesus used were common elements on their table. He took these ordinary, every day items and made them holy for our use. To make something holy means to set it apart for God’ purpose. Jesus teaches us that everything about our life is holy to God, that even in the ordinary moments we are part of God’s purpose of making life on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus compares the bread and wine to his physical body and blood to tell us that we are so important, so valuable, so very worthy of God’s love, that he was willing to give his physical life over to the earthly authorities whose self-serving power was threatened by the Way of Love Jesus teaches us to live. Through this feast, Jesus shows us that nothing is more powerful than God’s love for each and every one of us.
In the Episcopal Church (and in other churches, too, but as an Episcopal priest, I use this church as my reference) we celebrate this feast in our typical form of worship known as Holy Eucharist (a fancy theology word which means ‘giving thanks’). As part of our form of worship, we call the observance of Jesus’ commission to eat the bread and drink the wine “in remembrance,” Holy Communion.
We come together, in community, in communion with God and each other, to collectively remember God’s story, to take in the bread and wine1 as Jesus’ body and blood to become a part of our cellular structure (as all we consume does), SO THAT we are better equipped in the other 167 hours of our week to live as God’s beloved children.
Receiving the bread and wine in remembrance isn’t the goal, it is the starting point, the regular renewal and revival of our commitment to follow Jesus in the ordinary every day. It is hearing God say, “come to my table where all are welcome and take me in. Let my love permeate you and make you whole. Let the abundance of my love flow out of you to help heal the pain and suffering in the world.”
In our remembrance of God in this holy feast, we are re-membered as God’s people, God’s beloved children.
So, on this ninth day of Christmas, feast! Feast on God’s love for you. And if you haven’t made a special meal this season, make or order in your favorite thing to eat, set a special place to eat it, light a candle or two, and ponder while you eat what it is to have God come to us to show us love, to save us from ourselves, and ask us to participate in the bringing of heaven on earth.
1 Just a little note of clarification: because of COVID19, we have adjusted the way we observe Holy Communion either in-person with the necessary safety protocols or with online worship. None of these adjustments make the act of giving thanks and receiving God less holy or less “effective”. God is glorified as we seek God in the midst of our human limitations and precautions taken in loving response to the pandemic. God is not limited to or confined by our human acts and simply asks us to respond and love as best we are able given the circumstances in which we find ourselves.