‘For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’
A few weeks ago, our Vicar in his sermon challenged us to think about what our favourite Bible story is…and to tell people about it. Well, here it is, and I’m doing the telling!
Recounted so briefly in St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, this one story has come to define the church over the last two millenia. It has come to define me. And this night, Maundy Thursday as we call it, we remember particularly that last supper that Jesus shared with his friends before his cruel death. That night when he took bread and wine and gave them to his followers as His Body and His Blood, telling us to do likewise.
Jesus Christ, the baby born in a borrowed stable in Bethlehem, God Himself made man and given to us now stands in a borrowed room in Jerusalem and gives of Himself once again. Inviting us to take our most deeply longed for nourishment from His own substance God takes one more risk for us and His creation. God held in the palm of our hand, eaten, drunk of, taken up into our bodies, our breaths, our thoughts, our lives: it us up to us what we do with this Body, this Blood, this God made man.
In only a few short hours Jesus would be dead and His broken body laid in a borrowed tomb; the final borrowed resting place. But for now He keeps his focus on the present, gives thanks for the simple meal He has to share with His friends and hands to them His safety, His dignity, His beauty – given to those of them and us who desert Him in His hour of greatest need, and those who would even betray him to His death. One more sleepless night in prayer, then what He knows has been coming, what He knows must happen, what He prays would be taken from Him.
Keeping my own sleepy vigil in our church late this evening I asked myself what to say to this God made man, to the One who had invited me to His feast, and who now sits weeping and alone in the silent garden. What can be said? There’s a long way yet to go: many miles before we get to Emmaus. And the hour is now at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. God in the palm of our hand: it is up to us what we do with Him.