Scripture: Mark 14:12-25
Key verses: (22-24)“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 new covenant, which is poured out for many.”
Reflection: As we continue our journey through Holy Week, we come today to “Maundy Thursday.” “Maundy” is derived through the Old French, mande’, from the Latin mandatum, meaning, “commandment.” This references John 13:34, “a new commandment I give you, that you love one another.” This was the conclusion of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles, and commanding them to do the same. Today many churches have foot washing services to fulfill this mandate, though this has not been a wide-spread practice among Presbyterians.
Communion has become the centerpiece in many Maundy Thursday services. So it will be with us tonight. We will celebrate Maundy Thursday beginning at 7:00 p.m. around tables in Oxford Hall. Our worship will focus on Jesus’ farewell discourse found in John 13-17. We will take time to consider the special tables we have gathered around in our lives and what made them special. We will share something of our own stories with one another, with Jesus’ words guiding us through those reflections. And then we will share Communion around our tables.
There is something profoundly intimate about table fellowship. That night at the Last Supper, Jesus took that intimacy to an even deeper level. Using bread and wine to represent himself. “Take, this is my body…This is my blood.” Together, they partook. Can you imagine that scene? Could they imagine that for the next 2,000 years, Christians would repeat this night, seeking deeper communion with Christ and with one another in the same manner, sharing bread and the fruit of the vine? Can we fathom what it means for Christ to dwell within us, among us, and through us in such a way?
The prayer we often use after communion is inspired by one from the Iona Community in Scotland. Within the prayer we say, “As by the miracle of creation this bread and wine are changed into us, so by the power of your Holy Spirit may we be changed into You; to be the body of Christ in and for this world.” This is what we believe happens in communion. It all began when Jesus first said, “Take, this is my body…this is my blood.”
Prayer: Thank you for your many gifts to us, Gracious God. This day we are especially thankful for the gift you give us in Christ, his body given, his lifeblood poured out. Tonight as we celebrate the sacrament, may we come into deeper communion with one another and with you, through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].