While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
On Thursday evening, Christians will gather with Christ at the Last Supper table. We gather not only as individual congregations, we come as a world-wild community; connected through Jesus even though we are divided by language and even understandings. There is a holy mystery to communion. A mystery that even though we are many, we are one; even though we are different in important ways, there is a spirit that connects us. One of the basic ideas that connect us across denominational and national boundaries is that communion is a sacrament ~ a visual sign of God's invisible grace. Communion becomes a tangible symbol of God's presence, which we sometimes miss in the midst of our busy lives. Another truth many agree on is that this Thursday is often called, "Maundy" for the Latin word for "Commandment". At the last supper table, Christ gives the commandment that we love one another. It is a radically inclusive love from the very beginning. Christ's love was for one who would betray him; one who would deny him; and many who would desert him. That kind of love challenges me in countless ways. I find it hard to love that inclusively and exhaustively. Yet, Jesus was able to look his friends in the eyes and offer a love that embraced them.
Then, after talking about love, he went out to the garden. It was in the garden, Jesus would pray that if it was possible, God would remove this cup...a cup of suffering that would come in the form of false accusations and a cross and even death. How many of us uttered Jesus' prayer to remove this cup from us in hospital rooms and courtrooms and places we never wanted to find ourselves. We ask for God to enter into our lives in ways that transform our lives. Often the transformation does not come in the form of a superhero swooping in to rescue us, but a love...a constant, steady love that gives us strength to get up and go for chemo treatments or to face the person who said or did something that hurt.
Christ faced all of this...but not before eating with his friends. I am wondering if one of the ways we prepare for Thursday is to be aware every time we break bread this week. What if, at each meal, you slowed down. We live in a fast food culture, where that describes not only the preparation but the consumption of food. Eating becomes a race rather than an opportunity to slow down and breathe. This week, every day, every meal, will you practice eating. That sounds strange because we tend to go on auto-pilot when eating. But instead of just relying on muscle memory, can every meal this week open you to the opportunity and presence of God? That might just make every meal an opportunity to encounter and experience God in amazing ways. That truly would be a sacrament! I pray you have have an amazing and grace-filled Holy Week.