First Mennonite Church
April 5, 2020
The Lord’s Supper, The Act of Giving Everything
Text: Mark 14:22-25
22 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.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 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.”
According to our initial plan for this year’s Lent Season, which would lead us to Easter Sunday, today is when we should have celebrated The Lord’s Supper during the worship service. We did not know we would not be able to worship together by this date. That reality is a clear reminder that life is precarious and we are not in control.
The Lord’s Supper was a meal eaten intimately between Jesus and his disciples in the context of the Jewish Passover Meal. Therefore, the context of the meal was laden with meaning. It was intended to bring back the memory of God’s anticipated and definite deliverance of his people from the land of oppression, Egypt. After eating the Passover meal, Jesus introduced a new meal, which we call the Lord’s Supper. The elements consumed in this meal are highly symbolic as well. The bread and wine take new meaning and become symbols beyond their normal purposes—which is to alleviate physical hunger. The bread and the vine symbolize Jesus’ body and blood, broken and poured out in redemptive sacrifice for sin. Therefore, every follower of Jesus who participates in the bread and vine in the context of worship and fellowship along with other believers, confesses his or her participation in Jesus’ redemptive work. It is the redeemed community that participate in the Lord’s Supper and, by doing so, that community proclaims candidly and without hesitation that Christ Jesus died, was raised from the dead and is coming once again, as Lord and Judge.
Paul makes a reference of what Jesus did that night of during his last supper. In 1Corinthians 11, Paul says that Jesus took a loaf of bread, gave thanks, and broke it. And having a piece of the broken loaf in each of his hands, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my [broken] body that is for you. Do this [breaking and offering to others] in my memory.” He took the cup and said it was the cup of the new covenant in his blood. Jesus also commanded that every time his followers ate and drank the communion bread and wine, they announce his sacrificial death, until he comes again.
The Lord’s Supper is both a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice “on behalf of many,” and it is also a calling for ongoing commitment to serve one another.
How can we appreciate in God’s redemptive gift through Jesus Christ during this time when we cannot come together to celebrate Communion? How can we serve one another in response and gratitude to Christ for giving himself on our behalf when we are being asked to stay at home and away from others?
These days, we all live in fear of getting infected with the deadly Corona Virus. Because of the fear of not knowing how long the pandemic would go and how much our movement would be restricted, there is a growing sense of uncertainty. Lately, we saw how people rushed to the stores to stock on food, leaving empty shelves in the supermarkets. Self-preservation is the immediate human response to fear. We hear or read stories about people desperately looking for basic food items in the stores and they could not find it. There was the story of mother who could not find baby formula for her baby and another mother who could get diapers the size for her new born. We should remember that the first human transgression against God was related to food or eating, Eve in the Garden of Eden. We should also remember that it was in the context of food sharing that betrayal was plotted against the Lord.
Therefore, how can we live the spirit of The Lord’s Supper? How can we practice the essence of the Eucharist in remembrance of Jesus who gave himself on behalf of others?
Let me make two simple suggestions.
As we remain mostly confined to our homes these days, let us take more time to do self-reflection and introspection. What is the role of our faith in God in the midst of this pandemic? Did we take for granted the opportunities we had of being with our loved ones before, which we are now missing? How are you coping with not having Christian fellowship and worship together?
These days, most people are eating their meals at home. Many families are rediscovering ways to spend more time together. And from what we hear, some are finding it difficult to not being away from home or having to be confined with their loved ones this long.
Today, we will be celebrating Communion together through video conferencing. And as we participate in the broken body of Jesus and drinking the cup of the new covenant, let us commit ourselves to the Lord and with one another to practice the spirit of The Lord’s Supper. Let us be deliberate in our effort of finding ways to be of help and comfort to others. Let us be mindful of those whose lives are in the frontlines in the battle against Covid-19. You might know someone who is a doctor, nurse, or someone who works in the hospital. Take time pray for them by name. Let us pray for the recovery of those who are infected. Let us ask for God’s comfort for those who have lost loved ones. Let us be mindful of those who work in the grocery stores and as we check out our groceries, let us be thankful and cordial to them. For the most part, these are the people who are the least remunerated for the work they do, yet have become so essential these days. They are there doing their job, but at the same time putting themselves at risk of getting infected.
In the spirit of The Lord’s Supper, let us be of service to others if we can. If you are healthy and strong, offer yourself to do grocery shopping for someone who might be at a greater risk if he or she goes to the store or to the pharmacy. Furthermore, if you have an item your neighbor or friend needs that you have, share it with him or her. Call someone who might be by himself or herself at home. Last week, I called several people and some expressed great joy for the opportunity of hearing a familiar voice speaking with them. Pray with them over the phone if the person is ill or frail.
Every time we eat the Communion Bread and drink the Cup of the new covenant, we announce that Jesus is our Savior who gave himself for us. Every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we commit to serve one another in remembrance of Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen!
Let us pray:
Our dear loving Lord, Jesus, you feed us with your living bread and cleanse us from sin with your holy blood, shed on Calvary for us. Every time we participate of your table, we proclaim you as Lord and Savior. Help us, we ask you, to be broken and pour in service of love to those around us, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen!