A Bible Study for Anxious Times: "Let Us Break Bread Together"
by Rev. Lee Johnson
may 3, 2020
This weekend at Asbury, we "celebrate" the Sacrament of Holy Communion, perhaps the most vivid reminder of God's love. From Luke's story of "The Road to Emmaus" (Luke 24:13-35) to the first Christian community (Acts 2:42), God's love for God's people is revealed in the "breaking of the bread." Jesus himself instituted this act of remembering his self-giving love in The Last Supper (Luke 22:24-26; Matthew 26:26-28).
Of course, this weekend's "remembering" will be different than none other. It will be a virtual recollection necessitating your participation in preparing the "elements" of bread and juice for an electronic blessing. Interestingly, in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul admonishes those in the early church for abusing their remembering in "unworthy" ways. There, what was to be an act of Holy Remembering, turned into an over-indulgence of food and wine. While a virtual communion is not on Paul's unworthy list, this weekend gives us pause to remember what is important in our remembering.
Church hymns aid us in our remembering and perhaps the most beloved communion hymn is the African American spiritual "Let Us Break Bread Together." It stirs our remembering. The hymn traces its roots to a West African slave culture that developed in South Carolina. Later, in the 1920s, Rosamond Johnson arranged the first solo version, and, along with his brother James Weldon Johnson, published the hymn in their collection titled "The Second Book of Negro Spirituals." The emotive sound and words of the hymn combine to move listeners to their knees and so recall the love of God that makes all people worthy, even in their unworthy acts. (That is a nice way of saying "sin.") While this remembering is traditionally done in the context of community, this weekend your home becomes that community.
As you gather the elements of bread and juice, pray God's blessing upon them.
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/sermons/
Three times on Sunday: "As I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun, I have hope."