From the remarkable poet-pastor Todd Jenkins this offering of a Communion prayer in Lent. Thank you, Todd. As we approach Maundy Thursday I would love to receive other liturgical pieces that can share here. Please send them to the companion email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come to the Table
On the night when Jesus was…
arrested for claiming the divine promise from both his baptism and the mount of transfiguration, which is, “This is my [child], my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”, thus highly perturbing all of us who’ve hedged grace with our rule-keeping, command-following practice of earning;
arrested for disrupting the flow of money in the Temple, obviously offending all of us who’ve constructed a heavenly hierarchy of wealth;
arrested for hanging out with real, broken people, clearly disturbing our fragile and fantastic veneers of “normal”;
arrested for challenging the status quo of institutional religion, threatening the rightly-deserved pedestals of all deacons, elders, and pastors, not to mention all good church members;
arrested for refusing to ignore people living on or beyond the edge, uncomfortably expanding our safe constructs of uniformity and threatening our clever divisions of “other”;
he was at the table with a motley crew of fisher-folk, a tax collector, a Zealot or two, and a few other nondescript hangers-on who had all courageously, but also perhaps naively walked away from the careers and lives that society and culture had assigned them.
With a deep and foreboding sense that his time with them was rapidly circling the drain, he reached for a rich combination of simple reality and fathomless metaphor. He took bread and wine – the kind of ground and baked grain they all knew by heart and tongue, and fermented juice of grapes they’d all grown up drinking – and he asked them to do something different with them. He asked them to eat, drink, and remember.
He asked them to pause long enough to recognize that there’s more to a meal than flavor and calories. He asked them, not just to think, but also to feel how his own life had been and would continue to be a source of sustenance for our minds and spirits – even for our very souls.
Taking the bread, he blessed it, broke it, and said, “THIS is my body, broken and freely given for all of you.”
We are invited to tear a piece from the loaf, remembering how, through the breaking of his body, he feeds us.
Pouring the cup, he said, “THIS cup is a new covenant [soon to be poured out], in my blood, for the forgiveness of sins. ALL of you, drink of it.”
And here we are, some 2,000 years past the story, returning month after month, if not week after week, rehearsing the story, reliving the narrative, re-tasting the meal, yearning for a flash of hope, a glimpse of resurrection.
Give us this day, O divine storyteller, precisely what we need, so that we’re nourished and encouraged into the very places where we’ve been called to live, speak, and breathe with the fire of love and the water of grace; through Jesus Christ, the risen one, who taught us to pray, as we pray out loud and together, praying, “Our Father…”