I usually concentrate on Palm Sunday this morning but today I am going to look at the Institution of the Lord's Supper ( Mt 26:26-30) It is situated at the heart of the Passion narrative. Judas has arranged to betray Christ and Jesus tells of Peter's betrayal of Christ through his denials. The story gathers pace as Jesus is arrested and then begins the long ordeal of trials and beatings, betrayals and humiliations. This Jesus endures.

 

 

" Take eat this is my body" 

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall as Jesus said this. I wonder how the disciples reacted and oh to see the look on their faces. I suppose one or two of them might have thought that Jesus was being opaque once again. Others may not have been sure what he was saying, while others still, may have had an inkling. I have always thought that perhaps Judas might have had an insight into who Jesus truly is. And because Jesus didn't measure-up to what Judas wanted or hoped for then betrayal was an option. 

I can remember as a child being revolted by this statement. It made me wonder if Jesus' followers were cannibals. I know there are some, even now, who will not take Holy communion because they cannot rid themselves from this impression. I can remember at theological college being told to 'rip and tear' the consecrated loaf or roll and if one was using a wafer, to snap it. The symbolism of Jesus' actions is to show how he was to be treated and ultimately in death, to be ripped and torn from this world. For me as a minister, the Words of Institution never fail to move me and the privilege of presiding at the Lord's Supper is acutely humbling. In this time of lockdown, I am profoundly aware of being separated from all of you in our unity in celebrating the Holy Communion and sharing the impact of the various liturgies created for Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. It is as though this wretched virus has torn us apart, but we know, in Christ, we have our unity and hold to it.

" Then he took the cup and after giving thanks he gave it them saying 'drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins".

Jesus' body was to be broken and his blood shed. Blood was seen as an individual's  'life force'. In brokenness and suffering this was set alongside forgiveness. Even as Jesus faced the final act of his earthly life, there was no place for condemnation but an invitation to be forgiven.

When the world returns to normality in a post-Covid19 setting, it will not take long for people to be condemned. Politicains accusing others and being accused of failures, scientists of being wrong or unclear; of the recklessly irresponsible folk who gather together despite being warned not too, for having blood on their hands. There will be blame. Christians need to recall and give expression to the need for reconciliation and forgiveness as this will imitate Christ's words.

The Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, the Holy Communion call it what you will is for the Christian a symbol of the power to endure. We may all share in Christ's brokenness and suffering, none more so than at present. Nevertheless, we also know that Jesus' message of love overcoming every obstacle, even death on a cross, endures. Take courage and strength therefore, for in our suffering Christ has overcome and nothing will separate us from that.

Every blessing,

Simon.

Revd Simon H Leigh: Superintendent minister Plymouth and Devonport Circuit.