Do this to remember me.
April 21, 2011
Maundy Thursday Eucharist.
Exodus 12, 1-14. 1 Cor. 11, 23-26; John 13, 1-17, 31b-35
“Do this to remember me”.
Today we remember and give thanks for the gift of the Communion service.
What are we remembering?
We are remembering a life: the life of the one who revealed God to us, who was our window into God, yet who lived his life as a servant. That life of service is symbolised in John’s meditation on the Last Supper by the washing of the disciple’s feet. we remember that washing of feet which were dusty and smelly from walking outside was an unpleasant task which would normally have been done by the lowliest servant. I once heard a priest say that the nearest modern equivalent would be emptying bed pans. Yet at the Last Supper, we remember that it was Jesus, the Teacher, the Master, who did this menial task.
We are remembering meals: not just this last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples, but the many meals he ate during his life and the people he shared them with: Pharisees and rich members of the Council, family and friends, women of the streets, outcasts and crooked tax men. We remember he even dipped his bread into the same bowl as the man who was about to betray him and contribute to his death.
We are remembering a death: for the disciples as for us, never again would bread be broken, without the memory of his beaten and broken body walking through Jerusalem and hanging on the cross; never again would wine be poured out, without the memory of the blood flowing from his wounded head, hands, side and feet. Paul says: “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.
“Do this to remember me”.
So do we just remember, just look back?
The Last Supper may have been a Passover meal. The point of the Passover Seder was that the ritual was repeated to make every Jewish person present, from the eldest down to the youngest child, feel as if they personally were present at the Exodus, they personally had been freed from slavery. So that they personally would commit themselves to maintaining that freedom for themselves and everyone else.
The point of Holy Communion is that it becomes a New Passover, not just the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, but the First Supper of the new age of freedom from sin and at-one-ment with God.
As we share the bread, we too become part of the body of Christ. So we commit ourselves to living a life like his – a life of service, a life which will remember and honour him.
As we take part in the meal, we commit ourselves to share as he did in his meals, to ensure that our political, social and religious lives become inclusive – to remember and honour him.
As the bread and wine are shared, we commit ourselves to doing as he did, to forgive and re-establish relationships with those who hurt and betray us – to remember and honour him.
As the bread is broken and the wine is poured out, we open ourselves to the possibility that we may be broken, we may be destroyed, we may have to die – to remember and honour him.
As we share in Communion, we remember and give thanks for the one whose gift of a life freely laid down brought healing to our relationship with God, and we give ourselves to do the same – to remember and honour him.
As we eat this meal we anticipate the coming of the Kingdom, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and the resurrection to eternal life, opened to us by the life and teaching and death of Jesus – and we remember and honour him.
“Do this to remember me”. Amen.