Seward United Methodist Church
Friday, January 21, 2022
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Maundy Thursday Meditation 2016

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
            We humans are visual creatures. We can’t smell as well as dogs. We can’t hear as well as deer. But we can see well. The most sophisticated cameras can’t capture images the human eye can see. Studies say that more than half of people are visual learners; we learn best by seeing. Since God designed us, it should be no surprise that Jesus would use something visible as a sacrament. The bread and the cup are signs; visible symbols that point to deeper meanings.
            How do we see the Lord’s Supper? I would suggest to you that it is a sign that calls us to look in four directions. 
            First, and probably most obvious, communion calls us to look backwards. 
It’s a reminder of Jesus and what he did. On the night when he was betrayed, he took a loaf of bread and cup of wine, and he filled them with meaning. The bread reminds us of his body, broken on the cross. The cup reminds us of the blood he shed. We remember his love, his sacrifice, all that he endured to bring us salvation. 
Communion is a memorial meal. It calls to memory what Christ has done for us. Jesus instituted this sacrament as part of the celebration of the Passover, the Seder meal. The Passover meal was also a memorial. It reminded people of what God had done in the Exodus, bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. Well, the Eucharist reminds us of the New Exodus, Jesus bringing us out of slavery to sin and death. 
Second, the Lord’s Supper calls us to look forward. 
This is also a meal of anticipation. We look forward to what Jesus will do. We are proclaiming his death until he comes again. Jesus told the disciples in the upper room that he would not taste the cup again until he drank it in the Kingdom of God. 
Covenant meals are an important part of our faith tradition. In the book of Exodus, we read how Moses and the 70 elders of Israel went up on Mt. Sinai and ate a covenant meal together in the presence of God. The Lord’s Supper looks forward to what the Bible calls The Wedding Feast of the Lamb. One day, when God’s salvation is complete, we will eat and drink in the presence of Christ in the New Heaven and New Earth. The Lord’s Supper calls us to look forward to that.
Third, the Lord’s Supper calls us to look inward. 
There is also a present meaning to this sacrament. If Jesus had only wanted us to remember his sacrificial death, he could have told us to carry around a cross. But Jesus chose food for this reminder. And he specifically chose the most ordinary of foods: Bread and wine. People ate bread at every meal. People in Jesus’ culture drank wine at every meal. There was nothing extraordinary about these items; they were daily staples. They were the most ordinary of food.
As physical beings, we have to eat and drink pretty much daily. We can’t carry out our daily labor without nourishment of some kind. Just as food is necessary for daily life, so Jesus is necessary for daily life. We need God’s grace daily. Food sustains us for our daily labor, and God’s grace sustains us for the journey of faith and the life of discipleship. 
And finally, the Eucharist calls us to look outward.
We are not alone. We live out our faith in a community of believers. We journey together. We hope together. We believe together. We are united with each other by a common memory of what God has done, a common hope in what God will yet do, and a common source of help, God’s grace poured into our lives daily. Communion is an act of unity. Though we are many, we drink from one cup and eat from one loaf because we are one in Christ. 
Paul warns the Corinthians believers in verse 29 that they must honor the Body of Christ when they come to the Lord’s Table. He wasn’t talking about the body of Christ that died on a cross. He was talking about the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. We must examine ourselves to be sure not only that we are in right relationship with God, but also in right relationship with each other. 
As we prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper, look backward. Remember what Christ has done for you. Look forward. See with the eyes of faith what Christ will yet do for you. Look inward. See how he has nourished and sustained you throughout your life. And look around you. Honor those with whom you are journeying to the Kingdom of God.

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