I sometimes wonder how many of us engage in our tradition’s ancient rites, never considering where they come from. How many assume we know the story—and very likely do—but never wonder if there might a story behind the story? Nearly every Christian can trace the Eucharistic rite back to Jesus’s farewell dinner with his friends. At Gather, we recreate and reflect on this event every time we worship together. “Do this in remembrance of me.” And many of us get the connection with Passover, as the Gospels make clear.
Yet Jesus’s use of a dinner to seal the recollection of his life and death belong to an even broader covenantal tradition. We witness this in Exodus 24, the focus of this Thursday’s study. Moses receives the list of 10 divine expectations in chapter 20. The ethical demands on the community are spelled out in the “Book of the Covenant” (Ex. 21-23). All that’s needed is the people’s assent to abide by these principles for the deal will be struck.
Once they agree, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and 70 elders head back up the mountain to confirm their willingness to comply. Coming as close as they can to the Divine Presence, we read this: “God didn’t harm the Israelite leaders, though they looked at God, and they ate and drank” (Ex. 24:11). With apologies for the Seussical echoes, the deal gets sealed with a meal.
We hear loud echoes of covenantal language at the Last Supper. Calling the bread his body, Jesus self-identifies as the well-being sacrifice at the center of this common meal. (The disciples get it; their ears are sharply attuned to sacrificial metaphor, based on deep religious experience.) Jesus calls the wine a “new covenant.”
This goes back to Mt. Sinai, where God’s promise of acceptance and the community’s commitment to ethical living are joined in treaty.
While we envision the Last Supper during Communion, could Jesus and his friends be remembering a much older meal on a mountain meadow? If so, how does that enrich our understanding of Communion? We’ll dig into this on Thursday at 7:30pm CDT, along with many other intriguing—and seldom discussed—aspects of what happens on Sinai. Don’t miss the latest in our summer series, Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told.
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See you this Thursday!
PS: If you’ve not been able yet to enjoy last Sunday’s YouTube worship, do your best. Actual service time is under an hour and there are a lot of refreshing (and unusual) moments packed into that short time! https://youtu.be/kySlnrvzlO8
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.