After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:17-20)
The Last Supper was Jesus’s most important teaching moment. He was with his closest disciples, the ones who would go on to found our faith and it was right before his death. But instead of teaching them a doctrine or a theory, Jesus gave them a meal.
A meal is a powerful symbol. Meals give us the food that we need to sustain us. Everyone, no matter how great or small, has to partake in them. Meals bring people together around one table as we and everyone participates. Meals can be feasts marking big celebration days, and also the quiet ordinariness of everyday life.
And this was what Jesus said his death would be. It nourishes and sustains us, it brings us together around one table, and it is both a great celebration and the foundation that supports us every day. The meal that Jesus gave us grants us something that no doctrine or theory ever could, it allows us an opportunity to participate in and experience God’s redeeming love for us. “Taste and see that the Lord is good”.
One of the things we have had to sacrifice due to this crisis is sharing communion with one another. Among the many losses we are currently mourning, I think there is a particular sadness that we will not be able to break bread and share wine in each other’s presence this Easter as we otherwise would do. But as St Augustine taught communion is ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.’ We may be fasting from the outward signs but we can know that that invisible grace is still available to us.
Prayer: Lord thank you for the love and grace that are available to us through Jesus. Help me to go without the signs and symbols I am used, and to learn new ways to remember and experience that grace.
Action: One of the things we often forget is that the Last Supper wasn’t just a sip and a wafer, it was a proper meal shared by Jesus and the disciples. As you eat your meals today try beginning with a prayer of thankfulness to God. And as you eat be mindful of how the meal is nourishing and sustaining you.