This evening on this Maundy Thursday, we will gather around a table over a meal. We will end our meal in remembrance of the last supper. The Eucharist, what we usually call communion, means many different things to different people. Our church fathers and mothers through the generations and even contemporary theologians have sought to define the nature of the Eucharistic meal.
I suspect most of us in our church think of the bread and cup as symbolic of the events of two-thousand years ago. This makes it easy for us to have an “open table.” Our Catholic sisters and brothers perceive a mystical transformation of the bread and wine after it is blessed. This makes is more difficult for them to have an “open table.” They understandably feel a need to protect the sanctified host and cup from misuse.
There is probably no one right answer to what happens at Table.
Personally, I view The Lord’s Supper as a mystery. It is symbolic, yes, but it is also something more. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present at the Table connecting us with our ancient forebears and those yet to come. To me, the act of participating in the Table is to be in the presence of the divine One.
An open table in which anyone — believer or not — is welcomed is consistent with the teachings of Jesus who reached out to the margins of society. Participation in the Eucharist places people in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In that mystical moment of communion the nonbeliever and believer can be transformed.
And, so, for me the Table must be open. It is a table set by Jesus and is not mine to restrict in anyway. I do not know how we are connected to our ancient forebears of the faith. Neither do I know how it’s possible for us to be connected to those who are yet to be, I just know it is a miraculous place.
As you read Mark’s version of what happened around the table in an upper room, prayerfully reflect upon what you experience during communion. What does the communion table mean to you? Have you ever been touched by the Spirit in an inexplicable way during sharing of the Eucharist?
See you at 6 p.m.,
|Sacred Words Mark 14:22-42
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.”
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.