Lent 2018 – Week 5 – the bread and the wine

Reading: Matt 26: 26-29

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

12th March – Monday

Singing the Faith 268
Psalm 98 (StF 820)

In Matthew, the record of the Last Supper is followed by this verse: ‘When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’
Luke tells us that it was quite customary for Jesus to go the Mount of Olives – his journey there – presumably to pray was predictable.
And so was the pattern of the Passover meal. Year after year, all their lives, the disciples would have followed the pattern laid down in Scripture – what was said, what they eat, how the meal was eaten. There would have been a safe and predictable feel to it all.
And yet, this Passover was far from routine.
Jesus was not the same – something had changed. A year before, the Passover would have been as they all remembered it from their childhood – a joyful, family celebration, a time to thank God for his mercy and to look forward to what God had in store for them.
But this year – this year the mood was far from celebratory.
They said the same things, but the joy rang hollow. They did the same things, but the enthusiasm was forced.
And then Jesus deviated from the script. What could he have meant – ‘this is my body’, ‘this is my blood’.
If they had been apprehensive before, they now felt the cold hand of fear grip them. Jesus, giving his body, shedding his blood? They’d never heard those words before.
Maybe they hoped never to hear them again! But we, who live post-resurrection, take hope and comfort from them, not fear.

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY Pray for those in our community who are working. We pray for fulfilment and job satisfaction in the jobs that they do.
FOR THE WORLD Take time to reflect on the magnitude, variety and strength of the global working population. Consider the range of jobs that are being undertaken. Thank God for those who work leads to ground breaking or world changing discoveries, but thank Him too for those whose work goes unnoticed.

13th March – Tuesday

Singing the Faith 582
Psalm 99 (StF 821)

Jesus took one loaf and broke it into pieces and gave it to all of them. If he had given it all to one person what would the rest of them eaten?
Jesus shared bread out so that there was enough for everyone to have some.
Jesus body represented by the bread is shared out. In his earthly life, Jesus could only be in one place at a time – only with one group or individual.
Through his death and resurrection, we can all know his presence through Holy Spirit.
Broken bread is untidy, ragged but natural. Jesus death was messy and routed in the ragged and untidy humanness of real life.
The cross would have been rough and poorly made, not the best wood and full of knots and splinters.
We like to sanitise it – smooth the edges and even it up – decorate it and represent it with precise angles and length.
Jesus know the roughness of it in his torn back, the imbalance as he struggled to carry it.
His death must have seemed as if he was being torn apart like the bread.
But he endured it for you and me – because of his love for the Father and his love for each of us.
Broken for me, broken for you. Thank you God, that this act of selfless love has won for us the opportunity to know you and love you forever. Amen

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY Pray for those in our community who are unemployed or seeking work, that they may be given patience and resilience in their search. Pray that we may be a community that offers support, encouragement and even practical help when people need it. We think especially of those for whom the lack of employment is leading to financial or other strains in their lives.
FOR THE WORLD We pray for all of those in the wider world who are looking for work, thinking especially of those families for whom un-employment is now entering its second or third generation. We pray that the fast growth in technology that we are experiencing does not impact too heavily on the need for employees.

14th March – Wednesday

Singing the Faith 252
Psalm 100 (StF 822)

What happens when we pour wine? Sometime sit doesn’t all make it to the cup.
Some is spilled or dribbles down the sides.
It’s a waste.
Jesus died for all – but not all will respond – is that a waste?
I once saw a poster with picture of the cross and the caption read ‘Dying to know you’.
People are dying not knowing him….What does that mean to us? What should it mean to us?
We thank God that we know the sacrifice that Jesus made – but pray for those who don’t yet know him – they need Jesus – what will we do to make him known?
What happens when we spill wine? It stains the tablecloth. And wine stains are hard to remove. We may never be able to completely eliminate them.
Jesus stains our lives – but not in a negative way
The wine was not turned into blood when Jesus prayed over it – but when we drink it at the communion table, we know that in some way we become part of his death – his pouring out – knowing that we are changed by being one with him and accepting him into our lives.
We are freed and released to be the people that God calls us to be as he leaves his indelible mark on us.
Lord Jesus, you were prepared to waste your blood for those are guilty and ignorant of you … for me. Help me, changed forever by you love, to share this wonderful truth with those who have yet to feel your love in their lives.

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY We pray for all of the families who have been involved with our Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association. We thank God for the positive influence that this organisation has been on so many young people’s lives and we pray especially for those who are members of our current BBGA.
FOR THE WORLD We pray for all of those who are members of voluntary organisations such as Brownies, St John’s Ambulance and the Boys’ Brigade. We thank God for the positive messages groups such as these give to young people.

15th March – Thursday

Singing the Faith 569
Psalm 103 (StF 823)

Bread – the staple diet of so many across the world. Yet we would consider it only one element of a healthy diet. Eating bread will keep you from starving, but we that we should add vegetables and fruit, sources of protein and calcium.
Jesus didn’t share out a burger of a bag of chips. He didn’t break a pizza or share a tikka masala.
He took the most ordinary and basic of food-stuffs – the item every wife would have baked each day. The most familiar food to his culture and generation.
We want to make it something beautiful.
We make it white – refined – removing the fibre that has some vulgar connotations!
We are tempted to cut it into bite-sized squares or use wafers that are tidy and can be counted out to prevent the inconvenience of working out what to do with the left-overs.
Some Christians fret about crumbs falling onto the table of the floor.
We sanitise it – elevate it – and with good reason.
When we break bread together, we are remembering, re-enacting the Last Supper and we handle the bread as signifying Jesus’ body.
But it was just bread. Ordinary, basic, home-cooked bread, mis-shapen and dull, flat (because there was no yeast) and well – ordinary.
And he gave it to ordinary people, people like you and me.
And he gives it to ordinary people – to you and me.
This is his body, broken for you.

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY We pray for Jason and all of the volunteers who lead our Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association. We thank God for the time, skills and effort they put into their work and we acknowledge the value of what they give.
FOR THE WORLD We pray for all of those who volunteer in leadership of organisations worldwide. We acknowledge the importance of the roles they have and we thank God that there are so many willing to give up their time and energy for the benefit of others.

16th March – Friday

Singing the Faith 269
Psalm 104 (StF 824)

I wonder what the disciples talked about as they walked from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane?
Did they talk about the foot washing?
Did they talk about what he said?
Did they talk about Judas?
Did they talk at all?
It was late. They were well fed and light-headed from the wine and fresh air.
The confusion was great. And so was the fear – that creeping, nagging fear that sense of foreboding that something dreadful was going to happen.
Did they think about the bread and the wine?
Did they ponder what Jesus meant by his words about his body and his blood?
Did they think that he was talking in parables again, or that they had missed something that would explain what their minds refused to grasp?
Jesus was walking them into a trap – but not in ignorance or with irresponsible risk. He was walking into the trap that he knew Judas was about to spring – a trap that would hold him tight but not the disciples.
He was walking in with his eyes wide open.
But as the disciples dozed, Jesus met the biggest temptation of all – to stop the train of events that would lead to the cross. To walk away, leave the city and carry on living. To abandon the Father’s plan at the moment before it’s horrific yet beautiful conclusion.
How fortunate that Jesus didn’t need to rely on the disciples at that moment of temptation. It was to the Father that he went – and accepted the task he had lived to fulfil.

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY We pray for all those who enable our ministry of hospitality within our community. We thank God that there are always those who are willing to provide refreshments for others and we acknowledge the importance of this ministry.
FOR THE WORLD We think of all those who are involved in serving food and drinks in so many different situations and places throughout our world. We think especially of those who are serving life-giving food and drinks and we pray for the work that they do.

17th March – Saturday

Singing the Faith 600
Psalm 107 (StF 825)

Betrayed with a kiss.
A sign of affection, a sign of loyalty, a sign of brotherly love, a sign of peace and friendly greeting.
A sign of betrayal in this case.
There they were – the 11 disciples and Jesus – him on his knees in urgent prayer, them curled up under a tree asleep. And in that quiet and peaceful garden an almighty up-roar explodes.
Did Jesus hear the marching feet of the approaching Temple guard? Did he hear the excited cries of the crowd that accompanied them?
Look at the disciples – the half-drunk and exhausted! They were supposed to be praying – supporting Jesus.
Not much support from that quarter!
Jesus wakes them up when he is certain that the time has arrived.
In the glow of torch-light, they can all see the angry crowd, the swords and clubs.
And then they see Judas, one of their own. He steps forward to greet Jesus as anyone would his rabbi – with a kiss.
The irony!
Did their eyes meet? Was Judas able to look at Jesus face as he approached him?
Did the eyes of Jesus say to him: ‘My body broken, my blood, shed’?
His body would be battered, and his blood would be spilt. But in that moment it must have been his heart that was broken.
Betrayed with a kiss.

Pray…FOR OUR COMMUNITY We pray for those within our community who are our flower arrangers, who work tirelessly to ensure that our church is beautifully decorated with fresh flowers each week. We thank God for their skill, patience and dedication and honour the work that they do.
FOR THE WORLD Spend some moments considering the beauty of our natural world. Think of your favourite flower – how it looks and how it smells – and thank God for the diversity of His creation. Pray that we may be good stewards of the world in which we are living.