While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
There aren’t many sacred things left in our world. Even those of us who spend a good deal of time around the church don’t often think about places or things as being sacred, holy, or spiritually set apart. Our modern, sophisticated world doesn’t leave room for what used to be known as “mystery,” those spiritual aspects of life that we can’t quantify but still believe to be real. Modern people like to see, touch and measure things, and when we can’t, we try to explain them away. We also prefer things to be what they are, rather than letting one thing symbolize another. All of which puts the Communion meal squarely outside our comfort zone.
The truth is, it’s always been that way. Ever since Jesus asked his disciples to remember him by eating a meal that stands for his body and blood, his followers have struggled to make sense of this sacred, mysterious, symbolic ritual. Early Christians were often ridiculed for gathering to eat Jesus’ flesh and blood, which is a good reminder of the importance of clear Biblical teaching inside and outside the church. Jesus invited his followers to share the bread and cup as a sacred ritual of remembrance and participation. This sacrament calls us to remember why Jesus’ body was broken and his blood shed, and it invites us to celebrate his resurrection. The meal also allows us to join with Jesus in his death, as we surrender our lives fully to him, dying to sin and rising again as those who have been redeemed.
That’s a lot of sacred weight to put on a bite of bread and a sip of juice. That’s how symbols work, though, and how anything in this world can be considered sacred. We take something common and allow it to stand for something extraordinary. Through prayer, blessing and faith, the simple act of eating and drinking joins us spiritually with Jesus, even in his atoning death. We don’t believe the bread is Jesus’ body in a material way, nor the juice his blood, but we do believe that eating the meal draws us into a sacred moment of communion with our Savior and with one another in the church. The bread and cup Jesus invites us to receive remain like many aspects of our faith: beyond our ability to fully comprehend and yet real, true, powerful and sacred.Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your church a way to remember what You did for us. Thank You for dying so I can be forgiven and for rising again so I can have the assurance of everlasting life. Give me faith that sees beyond the things of this world, so I can know You and serve You with my whole heart. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian