Laughter, tears, debates, conversations, celebrations.
Something visceral happens when a memory is sealed with a meal. The very presence of long-lost friends or long-departed family members seems immediate and intimate.
Every time I taste that particular food my mind vividly fills with that specific memory. The sights, scents, sounds and sensations of those shared moments come rushing back in.
Jesus sealed His covenant and seared it into the memory of His disciples with a meal.
They would never be able to break bread or sip wine again without being filled with the memory of that room, those moments, and the sound of His voice.
Every intimate word he spoke, every passionate longing he expressed, every eternal truth He unpacked that night was sealed in their minds with the common, daily experience of bread and wine.
Too often the way the church commemorates the Eucharist robs it of its intrusive normality.
Jesus chose a meal because it was part of the ebb and flow of daily living. He picked bread and wine because they were common–an indispensable part of the everyday.
He wasn’t merely establishing a rite to be commemorated or a ritual to be celebrated. His intention was not that we would create special moments in special settings to have a special memory of Him.
He ached to etch His love into the salient, sensory experiences of the stuff we do every day–weaving His covenant of forgiveness and grace into the very fabric of daily living.
He never wanted His disciples–then or now–to eat a common meal again without the uncommon experience of His real presence.
He craved every meal to be a reminder of Him–His life, words, actions and spirit. He desired every bite of their daily bread to make us aware; every sip of the fruit of the vine to keep us awake.
If the Kingdom of Jesus is anything, it is eternity present in the here and now. It is the invasive uniqueness of Jesus’ life expressed the incessant sameness of real-world, real-time living.
Jesus sealed His last moments with a last meal as a lasting memorial so His friends could never forget!
In the most painful moments, among the most difficult circumstances, with the most intense fears and out of the most excruciating need, all it would take was one bite of bread, one sip of wine and…there He was.
Among them. With them. In them.
And in those crucible moments, they remembered.
They were not alone.
So on this Maundy Thursday with an overflow of gratitude from a heart keenly alive to His presence, I take the bread. I drink the cup.