52 Weeks at the Table – Week 45
Judged by two enemies – Pilate the Roman governor and Herod the king-in-title-only of the Jews – Jesus was sentenced to die on by crucifixion. Luke’s gospel tells us that the enemies became friends that day. After carrying that cross outside the city, Jesus was nailed to it: an upright post of wood bisecting a horizontal beam, fastened together at His heart.
At His right and left were two criminals on their crosses, and while one joined in the crowd’s jeers in asking His deliverance from the cross, the other confessed His belief in Jesus and asked deliverance into His kingdom. A Roman centurion saw Jesus surrender His Spirit and came to terms with what he had to conclude about the Man on that cross. Joseph of Arimathea begged the lifeless body to place in his own tomb, followed there by the women who had stood at a distance while Jesus died.
All of these diverse people were brought together in a unique fellowship at the table formed by the two crossbeams. There they made a choice about their relationship with with God and with others. There the Lamb was sacrificed. There atonement was made. And there, the Man-who-was-also-God brought God and man together as no one else before or since could ever do.
A Prayer Over the Bread
We gather at this table in the shadow of the cross, our God and Father, and give You glory for the great gift of being reconciled to You through the forgiveness of our sins. The body of Jesus, hanging between heaven and earth to reunite them, we recognize in this loaf. We see His head dipped to gaze upon guilt, and raised to view Your righteousness. We see His arms outstretched to embrace us even in our sin, and to bear its weight, and to implore Your grace. Bless this bread which brings us together, we pray: Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Our God … our God. Why have You not forsaken us? We are the ones who have sinned, and it is our bones which should be counted; our knees melted under the strain to take each successive breath. But it is the blood of Your Son and not ours which is given that we may be forgiven; and it is His blood that we see in this cup. Bless this cup, we pray, to remind us of Him for as long as we breathe: Amen.