Maundy Thursday – St. Luke 22:7-20
Throughout the Table of Duties, there is a natural connection between each party. For Preachers and Hearers, one must preach and one must listen, for what is it to preach if no one listens, and what is it to hear if no one is speaking? The same with Government and Citizens, one must have someone to govern if one is to find themselves in such a position. Husbands need someone to love; Wives need someone to respect. Parents only find themselves in such a role because they have Children. And there are no Employees if there is no Employer.
But what of tonight, when we turn our attention to two groups who would appear to have no natural connection in Youth and Widows?
You can have Youth without Widows and you can have Widows without Youth; in fact, that is what society practically demands. There is nowhere in modern society anymore where the young and the old are blended together; we have segregated everyone into their own separate quarters; it is not just legal segregation, it is not just encouraged segregation, it is in fact expected segregation.
Political campaigns have one message that is tailored to the younger voters, and one message that is tailored to the older voters. Restaurants have menus and specials and schedules that reflect the average age of their clientele. Advertisers focus products to one group or another, knowing full well, that there is no product that would ever appeal to both.
Even in the home, there is division. On Sunday, when you gather for dinner, and you assign seats, how will you sit? I imagine if you have any sizeable number of people joining you, there will be one table for the adults, and one table for the children. After all, why would one want to eat with the other?
It is even approved by the Church. Do we not also set our hearts and minds on programs and ideas and services that are designed to appeal to one group or the other? How many larger congregations set aside whole services and church workers, for the express purpose of attracting either the young or the widows?
Is this not all in the name of mission? Hard to argue with that. Besides, don’t you need to know your audience if you want to appeal to them? Certainly a worthy effort. And why are you complaining if it works? I didn’t say that I was not also guilty.
But there is an aspect of this that runs contrary to our teaching that we are in fact the body of Christ. Can the hand say to the foot that it has no need of it? Can the foot say to the hand that it is of no use any longer? Can you scrape out your eyes or cut off your ears, in order to favor your nose or your mouth?
Than why do we do so when it comes to the Church?
Why are we more than willing to sacrifice the widows among us in an effort to appeal to those who are young? Why do we toss the young to the side in favor of the widows?
Are not both members of the body of Christ? Do not both sin and fall short of the glory of God? Do not both need to come here, to the altar of God and hear the words of absolution spoken over them for the full and free remission of their sins?
Is it not the Church, and only the Church, the one place where the young and the old still come together and sit side by side to pray, praise and give thanks?
For what will we see here tonight, and not just tonight but each and every time we come before the altar to receive the body and blood of Christ?
You will see the young and the old kneel side by side and receive the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. You will see the young and the old bow in humility and confess the faith that each has been baptized into, that each has confessed, that each clings to for there is no other name by which they may be saved then the name of Jesus Christ.
You will see the young and the old come together for the sole purpose of receiving the same gifts that Christ comes and offers to all people, regardless of age or race or gender – the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
For there is not a hip and cool Jesus who speaks in rhymes for those who are young, there is instead the one Jesus who came to suffer and die and rise for the forgiveness of sins.
Nor is there an old school Jesus who speaks King James English and remembers the olden days for the widows; there is instead the one Jesus who came to suffer and die and rise for the forgiveness of sins.
Youth may indeed have energy and vitality for the purpose of going out and helping others in need, and they may indeed have the strength to serve in different roles than those who are older; but they are still members of the body of Christ, who need to hear the Word, confess their sins and hear the words of the absolution.
Widows may indeed have wisdom to impart to those who are younger, and they may indeed have the experience to serve in different roles than those who are younger; but they are still members of the body of Christ, who need to hear the Word, confess their sins, and hear the words of absolution spoken.
The young and the old, those for whom society would never consider to be united in any stretch of the imagination, are brought together and made one in the body of Christ; for the bread though made from many grains is one bread, and the cup though made from many grapes is one cup; so too is the body of Christ, though made of many members, still the one body of Christ.
And that body of Christ reaches across the boundaries of these walls and unites us will all those who partake of the body and blood of Christ on this most holy night.
The body of Christ reaches across continents and oceans and unites us with those of every nationality who confess the name of Jesus.
And the body of Christ is even able to bridge the widest gap of all, reaching across the generations that separate us tonight, and joining us together here at the altar where we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.