Sermons 2006
"Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 15B 2006 John 6:53-59

We were traveling through the Atlantic coastal Southeast this past week to celebrate a wonderful wedding in Orlando Saturday a week ago. I was reminded once again how critical eating food together is in the important rituals of life, especially at weddings. Rehearsal dinners and wedding reception dinners have been part of human life from the most ancient of times in welding families together as much as possible. And this one was a truly joyful occasion, as well as a sacramental time.

On our way to Orlando we stopped for two nights in Saint Augustine, Florida, which I had visited only once fifty years ago. For lunch one morning we asked the bell hop the best place to eat, thinking he would name the hotel’s five star restaurant. “Go the A1A Alehouse right on the bay, three blocks away,” he said. “They have the best food and town.”

And so we went, stopping on our way a block away at Trinity Parish Church – the oldest Episcopal in Florida – for their Service of Healing and Holy Communion. I was in a sacramental frame of mind afterward as we climbed up the stairs to the Upper Room which housed the A1A Alehouse and Grill. The fried shrimp salad with Caribbean sauce and pint of bitters – more commonly known as Bass Ale -- wasn’t exactly bread and wine, but it felt sacramental and that morning and meal are among my fondest memories of our time in Saint Augustine. It felt like a celebration.

Garrison Keillor's story, "Brethren," in his collection of stories, Leaving Home, ends with an unforgettable scene at his aunt and uncle's dinner table where two opposing elders outdo each other in praying silently before the meal is served. When Aunt Flo finally "brought out the food that they were competing to see who could be more thankful for," the elders are both brought to tears, weeping in their silent prayer. It's at this point that grace really happens: "It's true what they say, that smell is the key that unlocks our deepest memories, and with their eyes closed, the smell of fried chicken and gravy made those men into boys again. It was years ago, they were fighting, and a mother's voice from on high said, `You two stop it and get in here and have your dinners. Now. I mean it.' The blessed cornmeal crust and rapturous gravy brought the memory to mind, and the stony hearts of the two giants melted; they raised their heads and filled their plates and slowly peace was made over that glorious chicken." Here food accomplishes what pious prayer could not. For two hard-hearted Christians, God's spirit of reconciliation is made manifest in blessed cornmeal crust, rapturous gravy, and glorious fried chicken. (1) A celebration.

Well, we don’t have any blessed cornmeal crust, rapturous gravy, and glorious fried chicken on the Holy Table today but there will be a special treat in the Parish Hall later. It is a day of celebration: I am celebrating, among other things, being back home and with everybody here today. And we all are shortly going to celebrate the renewal of Marriage vows by two special people, only one of whom knows who they are. So stand by to celebrate the surprise with them.

The lovely and charming film, Babette's Feast, is a beautiful and gently moving story about two sisters, daughters of a saintly minister in a remote Danish village, who have forsaken fame and fortune to continue their father's ministry to provide for the poor. The film concludes with a dinner prepared by the sisters' cook, Babette, at which the quarrelsome villagers are guests, along with an aristocratic General who had loved one of the sisters in their youth. No one at the dinner realizes that Babette had been the chef at the famous Cafe L'Anglais in Paris. The meal is indeed a feast, costing the ten thousand francs Babette won in a lottery, and utilizing all her gifts as a culinary artist.

Humor abounds throughout the dinner, particularly since the villagers have suspected Babette of sorcery and have sworn not to notice or comment on the taste of delicacies never seen or eaten before. Amazement overcomes everyone, however, since the dinner has been made by someone with the "ability to transform a dinner into a kind of love affair that makes no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite," as the General recounts from a memory of only one comparable meal, many years before, in Paris at the Café L’Anglais. As they eat and drink, words of the deceased minister are repeated with devotion, and differences between rivals in the village are confessed and reconciled.

The General reaffirms his love for one of the sisters, certain that they will always be one spiritually although separated physically: "Every evening I shall sit down to dine with you—not with my body, which is of no importance—but with my soul. Because this evening I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours all things are possible." Quoting Psalm 85:10, he asserts that this night his eyes have been opened and he realizes that mercy is infinite: "Mercy and truth are met together and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another." As the last guests leave, one old villager pronounces a benediction: "Hallelujah!" A few moments later, when the sisters realize Babette has given all she had for their evening's feast, the elder sister foresees many more in heaven: "In Paradise you will be the great artist that God meant you to be. Oh! And how you will delight the angels!" (2)

(10 AM conclusion): So, let us delight the angels as we gather in the presence of the Lord who loves us and abides in us to celebrate and bless the renewal of the marriage vows of Joe and Lisa. The congregation please stand. Amen

1. Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home (New York: Penguin, 1989), pp. 165-166, as quoted and related by Richard E. Sturm, Sermon Ideas for John 51:59 Part 3,
2. Sturm, loc. cit.

(8 AM conclusion): You know, it is hard to stay angry with someone with whom you are sharing a meal. One must have a very hardened heart and try very hard to stay mad for it to happen. That is one of the main reasons, perhaps the main reason, we say Confession and seek absolution before we partake of the Lord’s Supper in Holy Communion.

Come to the Table. And let the sweet Lord abide in you and you in the Lord who loves us.


Wicomico Parish Church
PO Box 70
Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579