Holy Week – A Time to Remember
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
It was all so new and they didn’t understand.
The twelve disciples had gathered in the upper room with Jesus, and He was talking with them about His body and blood as He passed around some wine and bread. What did it all mean?
This symbolic feast, which became a sacrament of the Church, was given in order that we remember Christ. And, in our remembering His sacrifice—His body broken and His blood shed—we continue to be His hands and feet and mouth and heart to a hurting world.
Maundy Thursday is the day that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the apostles. It is also the night in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. The English word Maundy is derived from a Latin word meaning “mandate” because of our Lord’s mandate to the disciples in the upper room: “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other” (John 13:34 CEB).
After giving thanks, [the Lord Jesus] broke [bread] and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.”~ 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 CEB
These verses include the words of constitution in the service of Eucharist, a name derived from the Greek word for “giving thanks,” which is exactly what our Lord did as He began the Last Supper. As we come to the table, may we also be filled with gratitude for what Christ has done for us. But, more than that, may we leave determined to also live eucharistic lives of gratitude.
This sacrament is also known as “Communion” (from the Latin meaning “union with”) because it does indeed celebrate our union with God made available through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. As such it is a meal of compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.
“This ancient pattern for worshiping God and celebrating the Eucharist is the basis of our common life. The faithful have been practicing this same rhythm of worship since the first or second century after Christ. . . . At its heart, it is the same—gather, praise, read, exhort, bring gifts, offer thanksgivings, share the meal, say our prayers, offer up resources, take care of the poor.” (“That We May Perfectly Love Thee”)
What are some ways you can prepare to remember Christ in communion throughout Holy Week? Times of silence and listening; confession and repentance; a sacred concert; a Tennebrae (dimming of the lights) service; a vigil?
Robert Benson urges us to never forget the story of God with us. “We are called upon to remember that everything changed after that night. We are called upon to remember Him as we take the Body and Blood. . . . We are called to remember that to do so in this mysterious sacramental act is a call for us to be broken and poured out as well.”
under the mercy, Cindy
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
My new book Dwelling Places – Words to Live in Every Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell contains a 40-day Lenten devotional “Renew” (as well as fall, Advent and summer) It arrives June 2016 from the good folks at Abingdon Press. Available in Paperback and Hardcover. During Lent 2016 I will include some of those devotionals on my weekly blog.