Date: Friday, August 23
Scripture: Acts 27:27-44
Verse: After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (Acts 27:35-36)
Our United Methodist Book of Worship contains a template for a small group worship service called a Love Feast. The Love Feast stems from the early days of Methodism, where congregations would go weeks without a circuit riding ordained clergy person present to serve them communion. For churches in the most remote regions, the circuit rider might only make it quarterly. During the time in between the church might get together over light food (think coffee time between services at church), and speak with “honest simplicity … declaring the manner of God’s dealings with them” (from John Wesley’s journal entry of 18 Feb 1750, as quoted by Kevin Watson here). The love feast is not a sacrament, but like communion, it is a foretaste of the Kingdom back to which we look forward on the day of Christ’s return.
In today’s passage, verse 35 leaped out at me. It sounds an awful lot like what we say during the sacrament of Holy Communion. No doubt the author of Acts, Luke, used these words deliberately. What an odd place to celebrate God’s Kingdom – on a ship about to wreck with those who are your captors. Paul too was sharing a foretaste of the banquet to come. Remember, Paul is being transported as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Rome. A couple of his team make the journey with him, but for the most part these people with whom he is traveling are his enemies, although Paul certainly doesn’t seem to see them as such.
In just a couple of weeks, Sunday, September 8 to be precise, Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church is offering a Free Community Picnic to all who want to come. Some have asked why we would do this. It certainly won’t solve the hunger problem, nor will it get people to flock to church. But maybe it will encourage people to speak with “honest simplicity” and give some church members the opportunity to declare “the manner of God’s dealings with them.” Bringing to people around food and fun, looks back on the many banquets Jesus attended with “non-church” people, and looks forward to the table he is setting for us in the Kingdom yet to come!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us the sacrament as a sign of your presence with us in church and everyplace else. Amen.
Action: Invite people to come to the Free Community Picnic on September 8, and please consider helping make it happen by signing up for one of the teams at church on Sunday!
Respond: How has communion been meaningful to you? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below. If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.