I am one of three children.
I have an older sister and a younger brother.
I am the proverbial middle child.
One of our great joys growing up
was going to visit and spend the night with our grandparents.
Because for a few days we each got to be an “only” child.
I loved every minute.
I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina
and my mother’s parents lived about 30 minutes in away
in the small town of Wendell.
My grandfather was a carpenter and he built their house.
It was not fancy or big
and did not have a guest bedroom.
I slept on the living room floor,
on a pallet of quilts my grandmother had made,
all stacked up, one on top of the other,
to make a soft-ish bed.
For me it was absolutely divine.
In the morning we would get up early
and go in the kitchen
and sit next to a tiny oil stove--
their house had no central heat--
and have breakfast.
My grandfather always made me a cup of coffee.
Now since I was only about 8 years old,
my coffee was about 1/8 of a cup of coffee,
the rest milk and then about as much sugar as he could pour in the cup.
And then we would make what my grandfather called
You took a hot homemade biscuit,
punched a hole in the biscuit by sticking in your thumb,
put in a pat of butter in the hole
soak into the biscuit and then...
Talk about heaven on earth.
I probably have not had a soaky-roaky for well over 50 years
if I were to make one tomorrow morning,
even making one in my kitchen in Shelburne, Vermont,
that first bite
would make me think of my grandparents,
especially my grandfather.
His presence would be there at my breakfast table.
This is what happened to the disciples as they travelled from
Jerusalem to Emmaus.
Actually it happened when they stopped for the night.
They invited the mysterious stranger who had travelled with them
to stop and have dinner and stay the night.
At first they had wondered if it might be a spy.
How could he have not heard about what had happened to Jesus?
But they changed their minds as they walked together.
He began to talk about scripture
and there was something about the way he talked
that set their hearts on fire.
where had they heard someone teach like this before?
It was strangely familiar--
but they couldn’t quite place it.
Who was this stranger?
So they sit down together at the table
and the stranger takes the loaf of bread
and blesses it
and breaks it
and gives it to them.
And they know.
They know without a doubt
Yes, they know it is impossible
they recognize him
in the breaking and the sharing of the bread.
They know that Jesus was crucified and died.
But they also know, beyond their rational minds,
that Christ is present
in the breaking of the bread.
Now you may remember that on Easter Sunday
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb
and it was not until she heard this strange man there
call her by name--”Mary”--
that she knew.
She knew from his voice--
Christ was alive and present in her life still.
And last week,
Stan preached a marvelous sermon about Thomas
hearing his “master’s voice”--
We were reminded
that sometimes our ears
see better than our eyes.
Today we discover that sometimes we taste and see.
Jesus becomes present in the breaking of the bread.
And the disciples know.
Just as we remember--
the bread is taken, blessed, broken and shared.
This eucharistic action is what
Anglican Benedictine monk and liturgical scholar
Dom Gregory Dix calls the “heart of our worship.”
it is what happens at the altar, at this table
that is most important to us.
that binds us together--
and with one another.
We care deeply about the Word,
the scripture readings,
but it is not the pulpit or the lectern
that is the centerpoint in our worship spaces.
It is the altar, the table,
where we remember
who we are
and whose we are.
Gathered around a small green formica table
in Wendell, North Carolina,
I held in my hands a hot, buttery, molasses-drenched
soaky roaky biscuit
and came to understand
in a deliciously tangible way,
the love of my grandparents.
Gathered around this altar
here in Burlington, Vermont
joining with others gathering around thousands of other altars
around the world,
we hold in our hands
the bread and the wine of the Eucharist--
taken, blessed, broken and shared--
the body and the blood of Christ
and we come to understand
in a deliciously tangible way
We taste and see.
We give thanks.
And we are invited--
to ponder and to pray--
how might we share bread
with an oh so hungry world?
How might we share
so others might see
the face of Christ?
So others might be fed
as we are fed?
How might we share bread
more fully, more widely,
more openly,more generously?