HOLY WEEK: RECOLLECTION
Luke 22: 14-20 (NRSV)
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
On the last Passover before his death, Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples. In a solemn and intimate moment, he broke the bread, called it his body, and described it as given for them. He then poured wine, called it the new covenant in his blood, and described it as poured out for them. Jesus told the disciples that whenever they shared this Passover meal of bread and wine, they should remember him. This has become our precious sacrament of Holy Communion.
There are many interpretations of what the bread and wine actually represent in the Christian church. The bread and wine can be understood as symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, or as his actual body and blood, or as a divine mystery where Jesus is present through the Spirit. No matter what we believe about the bread and wine, I hope we can all agree that in Holy Communion, we are to remember Jesus and to know that he is present with us. Remember is our word for this Maundy Thursday. Remember encompasses the meaning of this sacrament beautifully, for several reasons.
When Jesus commands us to remember him, we are to bring his presence to mind when we share this meal. We are to remember the wonderful difference his life, death and resurrection have made for us. We are to remember his commandments to love God and to love one another. We are to remember his teachings and his way of living as our own life’s example. When we share in the bread and wine, we are to remember his last Passover meal. As we remember Jesus this way, the sacrament gives us the gifts of gratitude and grace found in the life, forgiveness, and love of Jesus.
In addition, the word, “member” is defined as part of a whole. So “re-membering” would mean putting the members back together as a whole. In Holy Communion, we remember how Jesus’ body was broken, through his terrible suffering and death. But we also gratefully understand how his body was re-membered in his resurrection! He was restored and made whole. As we remember Jesus this way, the sacrament gives us the hope and joy of our own eternal re-membering when that glorious day comes for us.
~ When I had cancer, Holy Communion became a very significant part of my peace and inner healing. I felt the broken body of Jesus being united with my broken body as I had the bread and wine. I remembered how he was then restored; yes, in a new and different way- but a better way; a resurrected way. I knew that no matter what happened to me, because of Jesus I would also be resurrected in a new way. This sacrament is a healing gift for all of us in our brokenness. We can trust that in all circumstances, we will be re-membered; because of him, we will be put back together in a new and better way.
Finally, because of Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit, we all are called and equipped to serve as his body, the Body of Christ in the world. When we gather together at the table, we are re-membering the Body of Christ through our unity, our fellowship, and our service together. In Holy Communion, we become the Body of Christ together, restored and whole. We gather and we re-member Jesus by living as his complete body in the world. As we re-member Jesus this way, the sacrament gives us our purpose and power for living.
Oh, how you have loved us! We once again are reminded of the anguish and agony you endured as you followed the path to the cross. Help us to remember and to re-member you in all the ways that you would have us do so. Thank you for sharing this meal with us. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. We are so very grateful. Amen.