United Church of Christ

Maundy Thursday Reflection

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV): “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

The sacrament of Holy Communion is an act of love and delivery. Jesus certainly wanted that we remember him in the tangible elements, everyday things like as bread and wine. These symbols have been a beautiful ritual for Christians of all time; teach us to share what we have.

God incarnate in the person of Jesus giving up his life. His message of justice and liberation had outraged the powerful of his time and he was being persecuted.  His death was imminent; he would be captured and then crucified. In his vast wisdom, Jesus knew, and wanted to teach yet another lesson during his last supper with those who had left everything to follow him. Perhaps the dinner was a solemn ceremony and all eyes were fixed on Jesus while he broke the bread and blessed wine, also it could be that there were sweet words of farewell, tears and smiles, as they shared a final farewell. It is essential that this moment was a sharing between the master and his disciples. The Communion as a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus does not exclude nor discriminate. It is an invitation to the connection with Jesus and faith community. That is why in this passage there are no requirements for who could share the meal; let us recall that even he who would deliver him to death was part of this moment. We must remember that this is the Jesus who said "Come to me you who are tired and over worked, and I will give you rest." Jesus always with open arms.

However, some Christian traditions use the communion table as a tool of exclusion and punishment. For example, some Catholic churches do not allow parishioner’s access to communion if they are unmarried and cohabitating. In the Baptist church of my youth, members of the congregation were separated by their baptism: immersion vs submersion. During the service, those who were not immersed were asked to stand aside to allow access to those who were “truly” baptized. I must admit that I liked being part of the group receiving communion and I never thought much about how the rest felt.

In the United Church of Christ (UCC), we have the gift of sharing communion from a table that is  open to all. It is beautiful to see anyone regardless of their beliefs or sexual orientation to receive the elements of bread and wine.

Human beings sometimes attempt to set limitations and regulations on the teachings of Jesus because perhaps we want to feel better and more sanctified. But the truth is that God's love is more immense, more extensive than what the human mind can comprehend or imagine. The communion table was instituted by Jesus to show his love, to fully receive in communion his beloved community. Jesus opens his table to all who desire the gift of faith, his message of love, his call to justice.

 

Lord Jesus, let us share your Holy Communion with arms extended to the world, to our siblings just as they are, just as you love us. Amen.


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