Jesus has a whole different Way that he created and led than the way many today claim or think he created and led.
Jesus' way was not about judgment, or exclusion, elitism or hate. Jesus' way was (and is!) about non-judgment, inclusivity, egalitarianism and love.
Jesus of the Gospels wasn't about judging and excluding, he wasn't about working to deny rights to those who are different. Nor was he about supporting the powerful, who ignore or abuse the weak or the poor.
Jesus of the Gospels thought and taught that people should be treated equally, and that we must aim for peace though non-violence. He taught that we must relate to one another with love - and he was arrested and killed because of it.
We don't like to think of Jesus as a rebellious criminal - it's scandalous. We may not want to hear it, we may not like it; but Jesus was in one respect like the two men on the crosses with him, i.e., all three were rebels and criminals under Roman law. There's no getting around that. We can try and spin the story, but scholars are convinced Jesus committed crimes on his way of love and peace.
John Dear in his book "The Sacrament of Civil Disobedience" puts it like this:
"Jesus was a peacemaker who, time and time again, broke the laws that oppressed people and kept them like slaves to injustice. Jesus was not just provocative; his actions were illegal, civilly disobedient and divinely obedient."
Mahatma Gandhi wrote that "Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. This was nonviolence par excellence."
There is a Facebook post going around that reads "The most effective activist in the history of the world was Yeshua of Nazareth."
It's true. Jesus was a rebel. He really was. He was a gung-ho radical about love and peace and God.
And one of the coolest things Jesus did was challenge the inequities of the Roman Empire by flipping a very exclusive Roman meal tradition on its head. The tradition only allowed the connected to attend elite banquets, so Jesus started a new kind of banquet, one with all barriers knocked down, one where everyone gets to sit at the table. All are invited.
Consequently, all manner of people get fed and brought into the community. There are no expendables on Jesus' way. All are loved and matter much to Jesus, his God and his community.
Our communion table of bread and drink can be understood as a re-enactment of Jesus' open table, as we also hold up and recall that he gave his flesh and blood for us, leading a revolution and a rebellion of love with that table.
His body was broken for us, and his blood was spilled because he dared to bring a new sort of love into our lives and into the world, a love for all.
And that love has never stopped vibrating, and communion is a very visible sign and a very tactile remembrance of Jesus, his radical rebellion against inequity, and best of all, his radical love for all and his radical God who loves all.
In short, communion is a radical act. And done right Christian love is a radical act.
Followers of Jesus, like Jesus, must aim to be radical in love.
The Rev. Scott Elliott is the pastor at Riviera United Church of Christ in Palm Bay. Visit Riviera UCC's website at rivieraucc.org and his vlog at www.youtube.com/agodvlog.