Devotion: A Passion Week Pilgrimage- Thursday
April 9, 2020
Devotion provided by Rev. Bob Symanski:
God of the covenant,
as we celebrate the beginning of the paschal feast,
we come to the table of the Lord.
Renew the power of this mystery
in our service to one another and to you,
so that we may pass from this life to the glory of your kingdom.
Scripture Mark 14.22–25 nrsv
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Meditation R. Symanski
Matthew, Mark, Luke as well as Paul all tell nearly identical versions of this scene in the Last Supper, the last evening Jesus spent with his disciples sharing the Passover meal and teaching. This moment is so significant that Christians continue to reenact it regularly in their celebration of Holy Communion.
There is a peculiar detail when Jesus takes up a loaf of bread, blesses it, and serves it to the disciples saying, “This is my body.” The assumption is that Jesus means, “This bread is my body.” However, because in the Greek language of the New Testament’s writings, pronouns (like “this”) have gender that ought to match the noun (“bread”) that they refer to, we can tell that “This” is not referring to the bread that Jesus has just served them, or even the word for the human “body” to which he appears to compare them. So, what does Jesus mean?
A likely possibility is that Jesus is saying ‘This community is my body. This group of you who eat this bread, this gathering of committed friends and servants, this communion of shared belief and values, this special bond you share with one another having been through so much together, this love you have for each other – THIS is what my body is all about.’
Having some awareness that he would not remain physically among them after his death, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus was announcing that his mission of grace, mercy, and service should continue in the growing communion of his followers for quite some time. He was describing a community spanning all time and reaching across the globe.
The group, the community, the communion people share with one another matters. We work together, play together, laugh together, cry together. We accomplish more together than we can alone. Hard times are made easier and joys are made happier when we share in them together. We need each other.
It has been hard this past month to feel together. “Social distancing” and Stay-at-Home orders and suspended group activities have made us feel apart, separate. Many of us are hurting, because we need time spent together. We need others to talk to, to commiserate, to encourage and support us, to help us know we are not alone, to make us feel known and appreciated and loved.
We WILL get through COVID-19, without a doubt. It’s taking time and will likely last longer than we want it to. But we are doing this together. Together we will work things out and circumstances will change and slowly we will be able to gather together again. May we appreciate our together-ness all the more for what we’ve been through.
Invitation to Prayer
- for friends we are missing;
- for those who are lonesome, anxious;
- for the end of those things that pull us apart and isolate us from each other.
Who will you call to let them know you are together with them?