Blessed…Ordinary to Extraordinary

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from this, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.  I tell you, I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then, after singing songs of praise, they went to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:26-30, Common English Bible).

There were a lot of things special about Jesus. Toward the top of the list (but by no means the top) was (or should I say is) his ability to take something very ordinary and do something extraordinary with it. He took an ordinary woman who placed two pennies in the offering and turned it into an extraordinary story about generosity. He took a night in a boat on the rough sea and turned it into an extraordinary experience of him walking on water followed by Peter walking on the water. A dramatic example of living faith. He took five loaves of bread and two fish, pretty ordinary things in Jewish life and did the extraordinary by feeding over 5000 people and having more leftover than what he started with. He took something as ordinary as mud and did the extraordinary by restoring a man’s sight. The list of extraordinary things that Jesus did from ordinary things could get pretty long pretty fast and that is just the things we know from reading the Bible.

And, there is today’s lesson. The meal the disciples shared that night with Jesus was anything but ordinary. It was the Passover meal. Passover is the highest of Holy days for Jews. It commemorates the last of the plagues God set upon Egypt in order to have Pharoah release the Hebrew slaves. It is not an ordinary day and it is not an ordinary meal.

But, just because the day or the meal is not ordinary does not mean there are not ordinary elements to them. Two of the ordinary elements in the Seder Meal is bread and wine. They were typically part of any meal of the Biblical era.

To this day bread is an ordinary part of the meal for many people around the world. When I was a kid, we almost never set down for a meal when bread was not a part of the table. That changed after I became an adult, but as a child, it was a very ordinary side dish of our table.

For those of the Biblical era, it was more than just a side dish. Bread was a utensil. Many people around the globe still use it that way today. As they eat they use the bread to push the food onto a fork or spoon. The bread is used to clean any liquid residue from the plate. It is an ordinary part of the meal.

The wine was also an ordinary part of the meal. It was, as it still is today for many people, a common and accepted part of the meal. How many of us sit down to eat a meal without having something to drink. For us, it might be water, milk, a child’s beverage, soda or an adult beverage, like wine. To have something to drink is a pretty ordinary part of most any meal at most any time in history.

As Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Passover with the Seder meal, Jesus took these two ordinary elements and did the extraordinary with them. He took bread, and after giving thanks he didn’t say the words the disciples would have known, the common words of Passover. Instead, he said, “Take. Eat. This is my body, it is broken for you.”

Then Jesus took the cup of wine, another ordinary element of the meal. And again, he said words that the disciples wouldn’t recognize as part of the Seder. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.”

In both cases, Jesus took the ordinary and he gave us grace, something extraordinary. When you and I come to the table, we remember, we celebrate and we become a part, moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Thanks be to God for the grace given to us as the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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