“Was ever another command so obeyed?
For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country
and among every race on earth,
this action has been done,
in every conceivable human circumstance.
We have found no better thing than this
to do for kings at their crowning
and for criminals going to the scaffold;
for armies in triumph
or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church;
for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation
or for a sick old woman afraid to die;
for a school boy sitting an examination
or for Columbus setting out to discover America;
in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia;
because the Turn was at the gates of Vienna;
for the settlement of a strike;
for Captain so-and-so, wounded and prisoner of war;
while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre;
on the beach at Dunkirk;
tremulously, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day
in a prison camp near Murmansk;
one could fill many pages with the reasons why humanity has done thus,
and not tell a hundredth part of them.
And best of all, week by week and month by month,
on a hundred thousand successive Sundays,
across all the parishes of Christendom,
pastors have done this
just to make holy the common people of God.”
Dom Gregory Dix The Shape of the Liturgy
Lord Jesus, you left a table with crumbs of bread – and spills of wine… You had touched them – blessed them – made them your Body – your Blood… and left them behind as a sign of your Presence with us – for ever…
Help us to be aware of your Presence here with us now – as real as it was then.
Teach our eyes to be instruments of our hearts – our souls – so that in Bread we find you.
Bread that was broken…
Reflect on the brokenness of the Bread,
crumbs falling unnoticed to the table…
Bread being handed out to those gathered
– one who was to betray Jesus
– one who was to deny knowing him
– nine others who were to desert him
– and one who was to follow,
to stand at the foot of the Cross…
What does Jesus offer you in this sign of brokenness and self-giving?
What does he offer those who have been abused
– whose accusations have been denied
– who have been deserted?
How can you be someone who stands alongside them at the foot of the Cross?
Wine poured – drunk – spilt.
Reflect on the pouring out of the Wine
– the pouring out of the Blood of Christ…
Wine that speaks of the sacrifice of Christ and his invitation to his apostles
– and us to be part of that life-giving sacrifice.
The spilling of innocent blood
– innocence brutalised by human evil
– Blood spilt – the ultimate sacrifice – but unrecognised…
What does Jesus offer you in this sign of pouring out his life-blood?
What do the injuries of Jesus
– the shedding of his blood
– offer to those who have been abused?
How can you become part of that libation
– pouring out your own life for the healing of others?
Lord, you left the table to pray
– to plead that God would not ask you
to take a path through darkness and agonised suffering.
You were afraid… terrified
You were utterly alone
– those whom you so wanted to be with you
– to pray with you – did not understand….
they slept on while you wept and sweated blood.
You begged God to stop it all
– but your words seemed to go unanswered…
You knew agony
– the ultimate dark night of soul
– of mind and body…
In your agony, you have been where so many have been.
You understand their suffering in ways we may not.
Take their pain to yourself.
Lead them to the trust that enabled you – when all seemed lost – to say,
“Not my will but thine be done”
knowing that God does not want suffering
but that, through yours – the Passion and Death of his own Son,
he could redeem the world from sin and death.
Bread, Wine and Loss – Wellspring (Kathryn Turner)