The Rev. Marnie Peterson & Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Part 1. 
Sermon from the Rev. Marnie Peterson

The Order of Melchizedek, what does it mean to be a part of an order that is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf? And what does this have to tell us about how we’re supposed to live as we read this scripture for today? What does it say to us about food, food security and a table for everyone?

The Order of Melchizedekas some of you may know — and I did not — is (as I understand it), an order of the priesthood that steps outside the line of Aaron, which was a genetic line of priests. Melchizedek, whose name means, King of Righteousnesswas of the Davidic line, he was a king: both king and priest. An honour apparently bestowed upon him because of who he was — the life he lived, rather than simply, who he was related to. A high priest chosen among mortals, called by God.

Here the Hebrews passage makes a case for Jesus as high priest in this very order. Jesus, who is for us called both king and priest. Both human and divine. “Chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

And I want to take a creative leap and extend that down to us in this room, to think about what this means for us as followers of Jesus, a part of the priesthood of all believers. We follow one who we claim bears the responsibility for helping us to right our wrongs. And through this divine order, whether you come to it through the waters of baptism or because you feel welcome at this table and have not yet passed through those waters: we who claim that we are called by God and have taken charge of things here on Gods behalf. We are the ones who have to intervene; this world is ours. We also are subject to weakness and to sin — sin being defined as that which turns us away from the love of God. Love of God, which we express through love of neighbour — because of the commandment that Jesus gave us.

As a part of this order, we are called to a life that is grounded in an understanding of neighbourliness and covenant[1]— a way of being that seeks to be in relationship with one another not expecting anything in return, because that is what we experience in God and what Jesus came to show us.

We are also called by God. We are subject to weakness.

[1]An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture– Peter Block, Walter Brueggeman, John McNight.


Part 1. 
Sermon from Andrew Stephens-Rennie

When I was a child,
I used to love the stories of Arthur,
the knights of the round table.

I immersed myself in the legends,
Imagining myself one
of those knights.
Brandishing my wooden sword,
fashioned from scraps
of wood, nailed hurriedly together
in my father’s workshop.

I marched around the
neighbourhood, paced the backyard
imagining myself
brave, handsome, heroic,
defending virtue
and guarding the vulnerable.
Eight years old.

I immersed myself in the legends,
daring rescues, great escapes
gallant quests for the holy grail,
source of happiness, youth,
and life to the full.

I knew nothing of the middle ages,
its hardships and plagues,
society’s vast imposed
distances between
paupers and princes.

I knew nothing
of life beyond the legend,
the lives of those not invited
to sit around his headless, footless
table where everyone was equal.

I knew nothing
of how this table of equality
was left wanting, incomplete,
ultimately searching for something
that could not be found
amongst its inner circle
a circle who never gave up
vying for power
one over another.

The table may have been
with neither head nor foot,
each powerful knight
of equal standing in that place.

But you had to get there somehow.
You had to earn it.
There was still a gatekeeper
And a means test.
You could not become an equal
at the table without first
being let in.


Part 2. 
Sermon from the Rev. Marnie Peterson

In their book, An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Cultureby Peter Block, Walter Brueggeman and John McNight, they make the case for living an “other” way — stepping outside our lives of corporate consumer culture and into neighbourliness and covenant.

At the invitation of God, and with the guidance of the Biblical story we are invited to re-imagine how we have ordered things to include being in relationship with one another and living out of a sense of abundance and enough rather than a model of scarcity.

Neighbourliness assumes that I belong and so do you. It assumes that I have enough of what I need and it is possible to share it with you.

Last week, I walked from here to St. James at the corner of Cordova and Gore to meet Fr. Matthew Johnson who is the street outreach priest there. It’s part of my contract with the Maundy Café that I will meet with him and I was happy to make the connection. We went for a walk, so that I could meet some of the people in his neighbourhood. I met some of his friends, wandered around some of the places that offer support or a place to be, living rooms in the Downtown Eastside, we prayed with one fellow on the sidewalk and Fr. Matthew anointed him with oil.

We sit at together at tables in the Park Room eating food and talking about salad dressing or gardening or midsummer mysteries or family. I’m told regularly how much it means to eat home-cooked food and not processed stuff. We sit together for a while over coffee. Sometimes people come into the office looking for me to see if I’ve seen their brother, or if I can help with one thing or another.

We know each other’s names.

These are exchanges that are the building blocks of relationship and belonging. Knowing each other’s names and stories is important. God shows up in creation, in our interactions, in our conversations, in the way we recognize each other as beloved.

Food security is about enough, it is also about dignity and care and relationship.

It’s not that we are doing a “good thing” by serving five meals a week, it is that we are getting to know our neighbours, we are building relationships — we are seeking to blur the lines between volunteer and guest.

We are seeking to bring our experience of being at the table together upstairs, downstairs into the Park Room.


Part 2. 
Sermon from Andrew Stephens-Rennie

“I want you churches,”
The city councillor said, 
“to put us on notice
that you’re not going
to offer charitable food

The room sat in
stunned amazement
rapt attention
as she told us
in no uncertain terms
that the continued existence of
charitable food was an indictment
of our city, an indication
that we are not as
spectacular as the tourist
brochures make us
out to be.

The church should be
telling us, she said, that
you will no longer put up with
a city that claims to be for
for human flourishing,
for the common good,
when the
chasms and fissures
continue to swallow more
and more of our neighbours,
casting more and more
to the place
where there is weeping
and gnashing of teeth.

I added that last part,
For biblical effect.
But the rest is true.
Her indictment, real.
Her invitation,

Our tables, the charitable
tables that offer food to the hungry,
are not enough,
if they don’t offer,
In the way they are created,
In the way they are tended,
In the way they are shared,
a critique of the very
reasons why our neighbours,
beloved children of God, 
hunger so.

All throughout the gospels,
God’s dream is imaged as
a table of love and hope,
belonging and enough,
a table for all.  

But it hasn’t turned out that way.
And there’s no more room in the inn.
And there’s no more room in the SROs.
And there’s no more room
in the entire West End.  

A few years ago
I began my work with
The Maundy Café.

I’m coming to understand
that the end of the Maundy Café
isn’t simply to provide food
for the hungry.
In the end, we’re all hungry.
We all have a hunger.

The end of the Maundy Café
will come to be when
poverty is abolished,
and when places like this one
put the city on notice
that there will be
no more charity
because there are tables
like this one right here,
the one downstairs,
where all are invited
to share God’s abundance,
one with another,
without reservation.

Where our clamourings
For power and control are
laid aside,
arriving at the table
as guests
and leaving as family,
each of us coming to
accept the invitation
and embrace,
each of us beginning to
believe that we are
beautiful, beloved,
children of the divine


Part 3. 
Sermon from the Rev. Marnie Peterson

When we gather at the Eucharistic feast, we take what we have and we somehow ensure that there is enough so that everyone can have some. We break the bread and we pour the wine, sometimes we have to break the pieces smaller or find more wine, but everyone gets to come and everyone eats and drinks the same meal. Through Jesus, everyone is invited.

The tables in the Park Room are an extension of the altar. The team usually prays together once the tables are set and the food is prepared — we ask God’s blessing on the meal, on the all of us and we seek to be reminded of Jesus in each person who comes.

We don’t ask to see a membership card; there is nothing that anyone needs to do to be admitted. In the same way, we say here that all who feel drawn to the table are welcome. Downstairs we open the doors to whoever is there and we say, “Welcome, we’re glad to see you, find a seat.” And somehow, sometimes miraculously, there is enough for everyone to have some.

We are a people who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is for us both King and Christ. Who taught about enough for all and share what you have. Who died for us, so that we could choose a new way to live — a way that is built on neighbourliness and covenant, relationship and abundance.

We are called by God to care for things on God’s behalf, because that is how God works: though us. We, members of the priesthood of all believers have a responsibility shape our lives through love, and a knowledge that there is enough and knowing our neighbours and a table for all.

We pray for and with each other. We serve and allow ourselves to be served. We stand side by side at the Eucharistic feast — all welcome and we sit together around tables and we learn each other’s names.

This is what God is like, when we are at our best, we serve as reminders. This is the invitation — to turn towards one another and by doing that, turning towards God and away from mine and yours, towards ours together, because we have been put in charge of each other on God’s behalf.

Part 3. 
Sermon from Andrew Stephens-Rennie

I met him once,
maybe twice
before sitting together:
the table set
in beautiful silence.

We had both chosen
to be there.
He had his reasons.
I did too, though we never
Talked about them.

We gathered round
a painting, rich in
colour and depth,
responding with feeling
worlds distant and unfamiliar.

The image became a focal point
for questions and discomfort.
A canvas, of sorts,
on which we might practice
becoming human, together.

The teacher invited us
to taste and see,
be still and know,
respond to the voice,
still and small, wild, and free.

Each of us scrawled
chalk on paper
each scratch plumbing the depths,
putting it on display
For all to see.

I noticed right away
how different we are.
What came less quickly
was my ability to listen,
appreciate the beauty before me.

How might our worlds meet?

For four weeks, we drew.
Side by side we drew
on inspiration, knowing not
from whence it came,
only that it arrived
right on time.

The gift of shared breath
vulnerable experimentation
I meets Thou
in defiance of the world’s
default transaction.

Obliterating our roles,
but for a moment
we were no longer
server and served,
we were one
at the beautiful table.