Thursday, April 1, 2021
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus says. Every time we celebrate Holy Communion we remember. But especially on this night, we remember. Remember last year? I was livestreaming this service from my bedroom office/makeshift altar, trying still to figure out the best way to connect with most people and include our music director’s accompaniment from Manhattan and sing songs without horrible delays…over Zoom? Over YouTube? Facebook? How to keep the body of Christ connected while apart? We figured it out…slowly, imperfectly. I remember wondering how to even put together a Maundy Thursday service when we couldn’t do individual laying on of hands or footwashing not to mention Holy Communion, which we had been fasting from for a whole month. Do you remember, what you were doing during Holy Week last year? What do you remember?
We remember. We remember Holy Weeks of long ago – different hymns sung, perhaps, bad weather, exceptionally good weather, special visitors or particularly meaningful worship services with drama, music, incense even – retelling our central faith story. With our focus turning toward Holy Communion, perhaps we remember the first time we took communion, or the last time. A memorable time, like when I served wine and grape juice in the small cups on trays for my grandma’s funeral. When my pastor growing up used to sneakily pass out the leftover communion bread to the kids after worship was over (we used real bread and it was already blessed). What do you remember?
We remember. We remember that Jesus was celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples. We remember how the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites that were marked with lamb’s blood – that it was the last night in Egypt for many who were longing to be free, and God was going to make good on his promise to free his people. We remember more poignantly that this is the night in which Jesus was betrayed. We hear those words from 1 Corinthians every time we celebrate Holy Communion that we may sometimes forget the meaning. But tonight, when we remember how Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, that he was not just breaking bread for an ordinary dinner out with friends. No, he was betrayed, handed over for crucifixion by sinners who were supposed to be his friends, on his side. Tonight, Jesus prepares to have his body broken for us because we are broken, because our trust in God and in God’s love for us in Christ too often is broken and so we like Judas betray Jesus and look for salvation in all the wrong places. We remember…how Jesus looked into the hearts of those he loved with love despite their brokenness and commanded them to love one another. And so we remember how we are called to love one another even still, even while we know we will go back home to a list of ways that the world is still broken and certainly our nation is broken, divided and struggling mightily to love just as Christ has loved us. Do you remember? How can we remember, to love one another as Christ loved us, again?
We remember – how long and hard it was to be apart, isolated and alone because God made us for community even though we know the community is broken and imperfect, so we rejoice on this night to be together once again. We remember with thanksgiving what God has first done for us. We remember that part of what God has done for us in Christ this night is to begin to bring us back to one another and to God again. That, after all, is what the word “remember” actually means. Re-member, to be restored, to be made whole, to put a body, its members, back together again. So this body, Christ’s body, broken and given for you, is the beginning of God in Christ’s restoration work for us and for the world, to make us whole again. Tonight, we remember God re-members us, and will continue to re-member us to make US into the body of Christ as the church. We remember that all of these memories, all of these stories, all of these symbols are contained in a simple little hermetically-sealed sanitized plastic cup of juice and wafer. Whether bread or wine or juice and a cracker this is Christ’s body, this is Christ’s blood, given for you. That is the power of this night. As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Do this, in remembrance of me, Jesus says. Amen.