August 19, 2018: “The one who eats this bread will live forever”

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

As Moravians, many of us know the table grace that begins, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” In my childhood home, we used the simplest form of this prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.” It was the conscious reminder that Christ was wherever we were breaking bread together, that the food was a gift to be thankful for, and that it blessed our lives in the nourishment it gave us.

Later I encountered Moravians who used a version of the prayer that had this second line added: “Bless your dear ones everywhere, and keep them in your loving care.” The second sentence broadened my understanding of the faith community. It taught me that when-ever I invited and acknowledged that Jesus was at table with me in the breaking of bread, I was understanding that the whole fellow-ship of believers was there with me also. Whatever fed my body and spirit in Christ was feeding the whole body of Christ. The circle of connection in Christ was not just those who were in my circle of care and concern, but whoever was in Christ’s circle of care and concern.

Recently, Lutheran friends taught me a third version of that same grace: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Thank you, God, who is our bread; may all the world be clothed and fed.” And then I understood that this isn’t only a table grace. It is a statement of faith. We are giving thanks when we pray these words, and we are affirming our belief in Jesus as the Bread of Life.

Staci Marrese-Wheeler, pastor, Lakeview Moravian Church, Madison, Wisconsin