Today is an extract from a sermon given by Isaac Villegas, a Mennonite pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship, North Carolina.
As we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we are eating at the table of our tortured saviour - the one the powers of this world wanted to make go away. At the Lord's Table we gathered our lives around the wounded one and learn that in God's kingdom the dead will come back to life, the tortured will be able to speak the truth. As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus through this holy meal, we are being drawn into what Johann Metz calls 'a dangerous memory.' We remember what the powers of violence want us to forget: that, in Jesus, the tortured one comes back, and with him comes all of the others. In paradise the tortured come back and are invited to eat. Thus, Luke's crucifixion story poses a question for us: Do we want to be part of that party, of that heavenly banquet? Or, will we have to excuse ourselves because we can't bear the thought of sitting at the same table not only with the enemies of society we see on the news, but also with the people who have hurt us and the people we have wounded?
At this table, with this bread and this cup, we open ourselves to God's forgiveness, which is a flow of love and grace that dissolves the hostility of this world - the rivalry that organises our reality in terms of friend and enemy, the rivalry that organises our lives according to hates and grudges that run deep within us. For as Paul says in our passage from Colossians: 'Though Christ, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.'
Isaac Villegas, 'Our Tortured King' in J. Alexander Sider and Isaac S. Villegas, Presence: Giving and Receiving God (Cascade, 2011), p.49. Originally 'Our Tortured King' was a sermon delivered on Nov 21, 2010.