The Bread and The Cup
Today's lectionary text comes to us from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, which reads:
11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,
11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
11:25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.Today is Maundy Thursday--the day in Holy Week that Christians commemorate Jesus sharing the Last Supper with his disciples on the eve of his arrest.
I miss sharing communion with my whole church. For me, it's the highlight of every Sunday because we do it all together.
Everyone who is able stands and comes forward to receive the elements. For those who cannot come forward, we'll bring the elements to them.
And we use bread that is safe for everyone to eat, no matter what kind of allergy they might have---so that we can all eat at the same table.
I get the precious privilege of serving as well---to look into the eyes of so many of my church members as I share the bread or the cup with them. I love those moments, and I miss them terribly.
If I'd known the last time I served communion was the last time I'd do it for months---I might have paid closer attention to it all.
I would have taken more time to connect with each person I served. I would have savored the bread and the cup, letting those familiar tastes linger a bit longer.
I wonder if Jesus felt that way on that night so long ago.
I wonder if he looked around at his followers, remembering the journeys they'd taken, the moments they shared, the meals they'd eaten together, the laughter...
I wonder if he felt sad when he let his gaze fall on Judas as he saw the conflict on his face, the body language that betrayed where his troubled heart was taking him.
I wonder if he let the bread and the wine linger on his lips a bit, savoring it, enjoying the way it tasted---all the while mindful that he may not eat anything else again... before what was about to happen.
And then I wonder if in some way and at some level of his being he was able to see through the fog of time, and catch a glimpse of all of us, gathering together in all our various ways, still breaking bread, still drinking from the cup... still remembering him, and what he did for us, and for all of Creation.
Tonight I'll stand at the communion table in my church's empty sanctuary, and I'll say the words of institution---"This is my body broken for you... This is my blood shed for your rescue..."
Then I'll invite everyone watching to do the same where they are--to share with their family, to remember together.
I hope that one of the things that we all remember tonight is that life is precious and fleeting, and we need to cherish every moment, live every day as if we aren't given another.
I also hope that we remember what it means to eat the bread and drink from the cup with all of our friends, our sisters and brothers in Christ---the ones we used to gather with every Sunday... the ones we stood in line with to receive communion... the ones we hugged, touched and gathered around the table with as one.
And I hope that we will know that we will gather once again. But until then, we'll share this holy feast from afar---aware now more than ever how important it is to continue sharing it, to keep remembering.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.