Originally published April 25, 2012
I know we’re well into Easter, but I’m still thinking about Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Good Friday) and what Jesus means when at the last supper he presents the bread and wine as his body and blood and says that whenever we eat and drink these we should do so in remembrance of him.
Earlier that day, my 3 year old daughter’s new big-girl bed arrived and part of getting it into her room was taking apart the bed she was using which had originally been her crib. As I took it apart, my mind was filled witht he images of Nikki and I picking it out at the store, and decorating Zella’s room before she was born, picking out bedding and the mobile and getting the sleep sheep from Cathy at church and bringing Zella home and learning how to get a baby to sleep and… an d well all the stuff that goes with having a baby and I was struck by how much of my relationship with Zella was tied up in this bed that I was dismantling to put in the basement. And I was struck by how funny our memory is. It’s like I couldn’t begin to describe how my Grandma White smelled, but on at least two occasions I’ve encountered that scent and powerful memories, full of emotion and longing sprang forth.
So in the Maundy Thursday scripture readings we encounter instances of God’s command to remember. To remember what God has done for his people enslaved in Egypt and what God is doing in the person of Jesus on the night before his death. “Do this in the remembrance of me,” God says. But it seems to me that this remembrance to which we are called isn’t just a recalling of the past, but an invitation to live out what God has done for God’s people again today. God’s saving actions aren’t mere historical events but the indelible pattern of life, of our life and of life always and everywhere. We remember what God has done in order to open our eyes to what God is doing.
We are the people being set free from slavery, we are the people witnessing God’s saving arm; God’s grace on our behalf. In this remembrance God, Father, Son and Spirit are real and present among us and within us. When we kneel at the communion rail, and partake of the body and blood, we are sitting around the table in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem with our Lord and Teacher. Jesus isn’t confined to a piece of bread or a sip of wine but is wholly real and fully present in the community gathered in remembrance of God’s acts in the past, in the present and in the future.