Exodus 12:1-14a; Luke 22:14-30
When I think of Maundy Thursday, it is the image of the Last Supper that comes to mind. It is the moment when Christ sits and commemorates with his disciples the "festival of the Lord," the Passover. I think of what Christ sees as He looks around the table. He sees in the eyes of His closest friends love and adoration but also hatred and despair. He sees deep in their eyes the wilderness each of them was experiencing. The shifty eyes of Judas reflect the preparations he has already made for his betrayal. The uncertainty in the eyes of Peter, the most certain of them all, who deep inside himself knows he will fall short when it matters most. The remaining disciples who, in Christ's hour of deepest need, are nowhere to be found. And yet, after His eyes meet each of theirs, He breaks the bread, pours the cup and in so doing, commemorates a time ages ago when God saved His people. It was a time when God's voice spoke out in the wilderness. By offering the bread and the cup, God's voice through Christ, speaks again—"Do this in remembrance of me." "Remember." A word that in this instance was both harkening back to the wilderness of their ancestors and giving hope to the wilderness they were currently experiencing. It is in our times of wilderness that we must remember.
Of the many communion experiences I have shared, there is one that will always remain in my memory. Several years ago our youth choir made a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and Camp St. Christopher—the very place they will experience camp this summer. One evening, around a bonfire on the beach, a youth shared through tears of a pain he simply could not bear alone. Following that moment another youth stood, walked over and simply said a word of encouragement and offered a hug. Then another stood and did the same. Then another. And another. Soon a line of youth formed to offer words of love, comfort, and inclusion. In that instance what I saw was communion. There was no bread and no cup, yet this youth broke the news of his struggle and poured out his pain. It was an offering received by all who were there and in turn they offered back the love God gives us all in Christ.
In the hymn "We Cannot Measure How You Heal," John Bell references Christ's healing love "as hands which shaped and saved the world are present in the touch of friends." Whatever the wilderness you find yourself in, save yourself from the pain and guilt, the loneliness and despair, and simply remember. Remember the One who was broken and poured out for us all.