via crusis grid blog 2007 - in remembrance of me
Holy Week Stations (Phillipine version)
1. Jesus institutes the Eucharist
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
do this in remembrance of me
i think i heard those words once a week my whole childhood. my church had little ceremony. it was a very plain service, no instruments, no candles, no altar - just a small sign above a plain wooden pulpit that said "What think ye of Christ?", and a wooden table with these words carved into them:
DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
atop it sat 2 silver-plated wine goblets filled almost to the brim with mogan david wine and 2 silver-plated platters, one loaf of sentry foods white bread (unsliced) and a white starched napkin. on the floor sat two hexagonal, oak wooden offering boxes with a large oval slice in the top and little brass hinges and a tiny brass clasp.
i stared at those items every week for at least an hour on sunday mornings, and at least two other hours - minus the communion table and elements during the rest of the week.
i barely have to close my eyes to remember it all because it might be etched on the back of my eyeballs. i can smell the fresh bread and the sweet smell of the wine even now.
broken bread, fermented grapes. do this in remembrance of me.
always full of questions "WHY" was ever on my mind, and rarely on my lips. bread and wine. WHY?
i still don't know, other than it translates into nearly every culture on the globe in some form or another. the basics of life. elemental it seems.
and yet two elements that i, as an addict struggle with the most.
the wine has been far from my lips for decades as i realized after high school that it would mean death to me. somehow i knew deep in my heart that if i continued to drink alcohol i would be dead soon after.
from there i turned to bread. elemental.
communion is the basic things of life. sharing the table. community incarnate.
bread and wine. WHY?
broken for you, poured out for you. WHY?
i know if i can understand this one day i will be much farther along in my recovery, much closer to the truth of the basics of my life that god longs for me to understand. WHY? i do not know.
the service was called "The Lord's Supper", or "The Breaking of The Bread" - it was never eucharist in my experience. It did not transubstantiate or consubstantiate in my world - it was always and only sentry white bread and mogan david wine. ever and always. elemental.
broken for you, poured out for you.
ever loving the story i am so grateful to the son of god for giving me such elemental icons to remember. every bite i chew, every swallow i take, elemental.
we would spend one hour each week focusing on the "Lord's death until He come". not his life, not his birth, not his resurrection. but his death. elemental.
the basic of basics. it could not be less ornamental, less liturgical, less codified. just men, moved by the holy ghost praying, giving out hymns and sharing scripture - all focused on the death of christ. until 10:15 - when as if given a holy shove a brother would rise and give thanks for the bread. another brother would slowly walk to the front of the chapel, stand at that table, dig his fingers deep into that bread and pull it apart. he'd set it down with one half on each silver-plated platter. another brother would rise, they would pass the platters, hand to hand, criss-crossing the 15 pews - no aisle - until all had participated, though none unworthily. the bread platters were returned to the front of the church, and the brother would reassemble the loaf of bread, stacked back together like some grocery store food puzzle and the white starch napkin would be shaken out and set over the bread like some holy loin cloth. i never knew why.
another holy shove and a brother would rise, give thanks for the cup and the same two brothers would now pass the wine from pew to pew. i can still feel the wine burning deep into the back of my young throat, making my eyes water. the smell stayed with me as if i had tred the grapes with my own feet. there was no covering of the wine goblets as it was time to grab the small oak hexagons and pass them hand to hand until it was time for announcements.
somehow i wonder if that is really communion. was that really what our lord was instituting? it was special, sacred even - but i have always questioned if it was the meal we were supposed to duplicate, not the practice. communion... community...
this was so sterilized and proper. so little like that last supper we were remembering. i'm sure that one smelled far more elemental. those swarthy men, the roasted lamb, the bitter herbs and the sweet charoset. elemental.
i in no way wish to impugn the practice of any church and their tradition, let alone the one i was raised with. i am just sitting with the idea of the bread and wine and where it has brought me today.
i still am in a church with very little formality or liturgy. but it is far less sterile. much community happens during our communion. tears are shed, hugs are given, prayers are prayed. small round loaves of homemade bread now, grape juice now, even some swarthy men in attendance. no roast lamb, no bitter herbs - but much done in remembrance of him.