Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, March 28

Maundy Thursday, March 28 of Holy Week  

Scripture: I Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

Some thoughts:

     These are words we hear every time we observe the Lord’s Supper. Paul takes care to pass along the very words he received from Jesus. Have ever given thought as to why Paul included “on the night he was betrayed”? Jesus clearly knew what Judas was going to do as recorded in John’s gospel. Knowing this fact and seeing how the Lord went ahead without pausing on his mission makes his actions all more commanding yet. “This is my body, which is given for you [you too Judas].” The juxtaposition of the two phrases is so powerful and a beautiful picture of the depth of Christ’s love for his disciples and us—for we have likewise betrayed our Savior.

     Then there is the sentence “Do this to remember me.” We may be inclined to read it and go on, but there is something worth noting in the word “remember.” At its Greek root is the word anamnesis from which we get amnesia. Anamnesis in this case means a recalling of a past action, which brings it into the present moment. The worshiper experiences the present action of Christ in the receiving of the bread and cup.

 “The anamnesis is not a simple intellectual function; it is an action. It has an incomparably wider spectrum, which includes the element of thought and makes it an existential, personal event. As members of the eucharistic community we recall again to consciousness the economy of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ, his ascension, and Pentecost. We live them. We share in them. We do this not through our own human abilities but through the grace of the Holy Spirit, through the uncreated energy of God which accomplishes the sacraments.” (Anastasios, “Together on the Way:2.2 Anamnesis” Dec.4, 1998, WCC)

The past action has entered the present. The power and action of Christ at the Maundy Thursday Upper Room is brought into the present. The effect is current and one into which we have entered. This “remember” is very different from remembering something that happened last week for example. The New Covenant which Jesus instituted on that night is current in its impact and life on this night. Notice also how the past, the Lord’s death, is brought into the present and the future (“until he comes again”) is also brought into the present. There is also a word for that concept, prolepsis, but that is for another time. Never underestimate the power of the Lord’s Supper on the “night he was betrayed.” This is a most holy wondrous night.

Music: “Ubi Caritas” Paul Mealor

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, who on that treacherous night, did display unending, unconditional love and proclaimed the fulfillment of a New Covenant of grace, we can find no words to express our love and gratitude for the difference your action makes in our lives today so many years later. We are nourished by the bread and the cup, your life-giving body. We live into that holy night rejoicing in the power unleashed by the Holy Spirit. This day we reflect on your love which culminated in your death on the cross to bring redemption to the whole world and all of creation. Receive this our prayer through Christ our Lord, who reigns with you, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.      —Daniel Sharp