The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 61
I was 18 years old and away at college in Chicago and needed church so I decided to go to worship at the chapel at Loyola. I had never been to mass, a word I wouldn't use and didn't know what to expect or how you were to act. But I needed to be fed and this was easy and close. So I entered this space, a beautiful space, a space filled with the music of a guitar and flute. The worship service flowed and I mostly could follow along. Then we came to communion. It's funny now that I am older and know the rules. But I didn't know there were rules then. These words stuck with me as I got up to walk. Words that I had never heard before: "I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." Words that resonated deep within me as I walked up the aisle to receive communion. Words that stayed with me as I ate the bread and drank the wine. Words that I took back with me to my seat. Communion changed for me that day. I experienced something I never had felt before when the bread was passed down the row in its neatly cut squares of wonder bread and its dainty little cup of juice. I felt part of something more. And they sang throughout the time, songs that I heard differently. I didn't know yet that I didn't belong and wasn't welcome. At that moment, I just knew that communion would never be the same for me.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’ They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, ‘Surely, not I?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’
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.’ Mark 14:12-25
In our passage from Mark, Jesus is asked by his disciples how they will celebrate Passover. He provides them with instructions to find the place where they will gather. Jesus takes this day of remembering when God saved his people from slavery. He takes two of the symbols the bread and the wine and speaks about the bread that sustained the hungry as his body. The cup is the new covenant of blood shed for the many. Jesus takes this symbol of a past memory of liberation into a our new practice. So that we will continually remember the struggle for liberation, for freedom. Communion, the Lord's Supper is not meant to be a memorial, looking backward, but as a way to participate in the messianic practice of life and death. We are to take and eat, take and drink. We are to give thanks and bless and be reminded of our call to take up our cross and follow. We are reminded of Jesus' journey to the cross and are to follow the same path journey of building the kingdom here on earth.
So when you next are present for the joyful feast of the Lord, how will you experience the sacrament? Will this be a solemn remembrance of something past? Or will you see this as a time to renew your commitment to follow Jesus? Take and Eat. Take and Drink. Give Thanks and Bless.
Take time to let the words of this invitation to communion wash over you.
In the midst of the sudden death of loved ones, friends, lovers, children, you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.” In the joy of new births and baptisms you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.” In the hidden uncertainty of our self-worth, when we've wondered if there really could be a place for us at God’s Table, you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.”
In the crucible of transformation when life as we’d known it had fallen apart. When we had questioned our identity you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.” In the heat of conflict between friends and lovers, in the dying embers of once impassioned relationships, you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.” In the center of our fears and longings for new life, different life, sometimes even the old life we've known, you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.”Enuma Okoro, Reluctant Pilgrim
In sickness, in body-shattering and mind-numbing sickness, when treatment left us bereft of desire, you said, “Come and eat. This is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you.” And now you have us dreaming of a hungry church and a tangible God, of people we have come to know and perhaps love, coming to you, laying down our burdens for just a moment, daring ourselves to dream of healing and reconciliation, daring to think of opening our hearts a little more. Daring to be nourished for another leg of our journey, these are our bodies, given to you. Amen.
Waiting For You by Christopher Grundy