S (Scripture): Luke 24:30 When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 24:31 At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight.
O (Observation): No matter how much you look at this text, either in English or in its original language of Greek, we really have no idea HOW the hearts of these folks were opened to allow them to see Jesus for who he really was. Up until this point they just figured he was another follower of Jesus.
Somehow, in the mystery of the breaking and the blessing of the bread, Jesus reveals himself. (Check out Luke 22:14-20, where Jesus establishes the gift of The Lord’s Supper.)
A (Application): My first thought is about Holy Communion. Being raised in the Lutheran denomination (and the same goes for my wife), and now serving as a pastor in a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have been and will always be shaped by the gift of this meal. My children, ages 2 through 11, all receive the life-giving gift of Holy Communion. I am delighted by the fact that they will NOT know a time of being in the church WITHOUT receiving Holy Communion. Is this effective for my children? What if they don’t understand? Well, I’m pretty sure they don’t understand, but perhaps God’s grace is being revealed to them one wafer or piece of bread and one swig of wine or grape juice at a time.
The fact that my children commune might rub some people the wrong way, because the tradition has been to set age limits at which one can begin to receive Holy Communion. The official stance of the ELCA is that the age limit is a matter of discernment between the pastor and the people. Another wrinkle, and perhaps a somewhat more controversial issue is whether one must be baptized before receiving the Meal.
As the pastor, I believe this life-giving gift of Holy Communion does a work in those who are part of the faith community, or are at least becoming familiar with the Christian faith. If my hunch serves correctly, the question that the ELCA will deal with in the next several years is this: Who is welcome at the table?
For now, let it suffice that Jesus is the gift. Jesus welcomes sinners to dine with him. Jesus welcomes his followers who doubt. Jesus comes into our places of worship and our homes and becomes the Host, who provides life-giving body and blood to those who wish to receive it (and maybe even to those who don’t know they need/want it).
P (Prayer): Lord, as we doubt, bring us a gift, a sign of your never-ending grace and mercy. Give us your presence in the Meal, as you become the Host. Amen.