Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Feast of Deliverance -- Alternative Lecionary for Easter 5 (David Ackerman)


At the center of the Christian faith is the Eucharist -- the Supper of the Lord -- a feast that draws inspiration from the Passover Feast that stands at the center of Judaism.  Throughout the scriptures we find descriptions of meals -- offerings of hospitality -- that define the nature of faith.  As we continue the Easter journey, David Ackerman (Beyond the Lectionary) has offered us a set of texts that speak to this call to gracious hospitality.  There is the story of David's offering of hospitality to the son of Jonathan, a person with disabilities, reminding us of our calling to make a place for those with disabilities.  There is the reminder in Revelation that the Eucharist is a foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and then there is the story of the feeding of the 4000.  With this meal, in Mark's telling, we see Jesus the one who shows compassion for those in need of sustenance.  Each of these passages are signs of divine grace, and texts worth exploring.

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Easter 5

“A Feast of Deliverance”

Call to Worship:  Psalm 68:17-20 NRSV

One:  With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands, the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.

Many:  You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people, even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.

One:  Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.

Many:  Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

Gathering Prayer:  You have brought us here today, Holy One, having delivered us from all kinds of harm.  As we gather, we pray that you would feed us with your life sustaining food.  Having been nurtured in this place, may we go out and serve you faithfully.

Confession:  We are needy people, God.  When we’re being honest, we realize that we cannot save ourselves and need you to come to deliver us.  Time and time again, we turn away from you, even though you feed us with your life-giving food.  Forgive us when we are so stubbornly wrong.  Nourish us into life, so that we may be filled with your Spirit and live for your praise.

Assurance:  God’s salvation is here and God’s deliverance is sure.  Let us thank and praise the One who calls us to a heavenly table and feeds us with the food of abundant life.

Scriptures:      2 Samuel  9:1-13a – “Mephibosheth at the Table”
Revelation 19:1-10 – “The Lamb’s Feast”
Mark 8:1-10 – “Feeding of the Four Thousand”

Commentaries and sermon ideas are available at Beyond the Lectionary.

Reflection Questions: 
  • In what ways does David rescue Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9?  How is the welcome that Mephibosheth receives at David’s table a sign of this deliverance?  Does God do something like this for us? 
  • How can we minister effectively to people who have physical disabilities?
  • What do you think is the meaning behind the “marriage supper of the Lamb” in Revelation 19?  What point do you think the author of Revelation is trying to make in describing this scene of victory?  
  •  What do you think is the real miracle behind the story of the feeding of the four thousand in Mark 8?  Is this a magic trick that Jesus pulls or is it something different? 
  • Have you ever been so hungry that when you ate food, it deeply revived you?  Have you ever been part of a banquet or celebration where the food pointed you to something that was greater than the meal itself?  Does Holy Communion do something like this for us?


Prayer of Thanksgiving:  You invite us, God, to your joyful feast.  As we celebrate, we pray that we might live as people who are truly grateful for all the ways that you strengthen us for life in this world and life in the world to come.


Benediction:  As we go today, we rejoice to know that God has delivered us from all evil and empowered us to be people who truly give God glory.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

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