You are There – Maundy Thursday

…”Take, eat; this is My Body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” … “This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”                             I Corinthians 11:24-25

So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.                                                                      Exodus 12:14

In the Bible there is a special class of words which are simply hard to define.  Two such elusive words are HESED  in the Old Testament and its Greek equivalent, AGAPE.  There is nothing on this earth which could provide an accurate reference for what is contained in these words.  Although HESED, for example, is defined variously as “loving kindness” or “steadfast love” or “mercy,” its meaning is elusive because it has eternity attached to it.  It is the kind of Love which the Lord Creator God has which is centered in an eternal constancy, a Love which steadfastly holds to humans who rightfully ought to be discarded, and instead which compels Him to do impossible things to save these humans.  We will watch HESED and AGAPE in action on the Cross and in the Resurrection.

Another such challenge is the Greek word ANAMNESIS – translated as “Remembrance” in our text, and Its Hebrew counterpart ZIKARON, the word “Memorial” in the second text.  We think we understand them until we realize that  they also are centered in eternity as well, and then they become very difficult to define.  The scholar Jean-Jacques Von Allmen wrote the following about these words:

But what is the meaning of anamnesis, the Hebrew zikaron which is so difficult to translate exactly: memory, memorial, celebration, or cultic commemoration? … [It] is the ritual recalling of a past event to restore its original virtue and, even more, the setting of those who engage in the anamnesis into the very event which the celebration commemorates.  Reference may be made to the saying of Gamaliel [the rabbi mentioned in Acts 5:34, and under whom St Paul studied [Acts 22:3]] when expounding, in the light of Exod. 13:8, the event of the Israelite Passover: “Every man in every generation must consider himself as having been personally delivered from Egypt.  Every Israelite must know that he personally has been freed from slavery.[i]

Beyond mere reminiscing, they speak of where you literally participate in the event of the past, but more than that, the event comes from the past to you in the present: this is an event in which you personally are involved, even if you did not experience it originally yourself.  So therefore in Hebrews 7[:9-10], St Paul speaks of great grandson Levi along with all his descendants throughout the millennia, though not yet born, still participated when Abraham gave the tithe to Melchizedek.  Time must be bent when touched by eternity.

When the Jew celebrates the Passover today, so surely is he “in the loins’’ of his ancestor, he also is there that fateful night, participating in that great deliverance; hearing, as Noah’s family also had, the terrible wailing at the judgment of God; trembling at the anguish all around as death takes its prey; marveling to realize that God’s judgment is merely a thin line, a covering of Blood away – an atonement (Hebrew KAPHAR; uncharacteristically translated as “pitch” for the covering of Noah’s ark [Genesis 6:4]) –; rejoicing to know that he has been saved by the Lamb.  He is as it were a colossus straddling time, with one foot solidly planted in the past event, yet the other foot planted in the here and now.  This is indeed no “memorial” as one might celebrate Thanksgiving by having a merely traditional ritual!

Holy Communion is even more complex, because not only are we brought to the very first table with Jesus gathered with His disciples that night before the crucifixion, but it is also something around which all present-day Christians are gathered; and then it takes us forward to the very end of time, as we gather with all saints of all time in the great marriage feast of heaven with all the majesty of that event.  Again time must be bent when touched by eternity.

Now you understand the problem when words like HESED, AGAPE, ANAMNESIS and ZIKARON have eternity attached to them – they encompass far more than can be described in any sermon, because they wend their way throughout the Bible, through the total history and future of God with man, all the way into the Last Day.

So Holy Communion sits us with James and John, Peter and Andrew, and yes, even with Judas.  As Jesus pours out His heart and describes the meaning of His life and ministry, He is talking eye-to-eye with us.  You hear the wistfulness in His voice, the sadness as He knows what is about to happen to these disciples, but also listen to His concrete reassurances for the coming fears and heartbreaks.  In His High Priestly Prayer in John 17, you hear Him praying specifically for you and me and our needs as His followers in a hostile world.

Then when it comes to the Communion itself, Jesus says nothing about this being a symbolic token.  As He looks at you over this Table, what is there that He could give you which will withstand history’s vagrant loyalties, which will provide not mere theoretical nor ethereal strengthening but a concrete addressing of each need in your heart and faith?  What is there to which He can attach His promise which will powerfully reassure you of His involvement in your life and future?  What is there at a definite place and time where He gives you the added proof that He is fulfilling His promises to you?  What could He give you which is the evidence that He has accepted you, forgiven you, restored you – you as an individual, not merely as part of a faceless mob, but direct interaction with you personally?  In fact, what else could He give you but His very own self?

commander levitra Therapy is also recommended, as well as exercise. Luckily, there are many medicines available in the market trying to outdo each other and carve out a space in the minds of consumers. If you follow this advice, your spam problems will soon be confined to the annals of history. The effect of the drug remains 4 to 6 hours and help women derive intense pleasure and satisfaction for both of you. Truly some feel that needing a physical element is beneath their faith.  The odd thing is that it was not beneath Jesus to provide something physical and concrete when He rose from the dead.  In Luke 24[:39-43] He instructed His disciples to handle His resurrected Body and witness His eating some food.  It was not beneath Jesus when He touched many He healed, even lepers [e.g., Matthew 8:3,15; 9:29], or touched the children brought to Him [Mark 10:13].  In fact, His Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion require physical reality – it was not beneath Jesus to use actual bread and wine when He instituted the Sacrament.

He understands that we do need to have the balance of something tangible along with His profound revelations.  He knows that there are times when we feel disconnected, or in need of something more than words.  Sometimes we can feel lonely and desire the touch of a Friend.  Sometimes it is the welcoming handshake of fellowship.  It is the shoulder for one who weeps, the grasped hand for one who mourns, the pat on the back for the triumphant, the hand of encouragement on the shoulder.  After all it was in the wisdom of God to give us physical bodies in order to make us complete in His design.

It is this physical reality which swirls around Holy Communion throughout the ages, and is to found in the fellowship of what the Bible calls the Body of Christ.  Although one might think of Communion as a training ground, it is in the assembly of believers where Jesus’ physical touch is consequently experienced through each other so that it may then be transmitted to a world in which people have become increasingly isolated.  After all, the reality of Jesus’ Body and Blood was never meant to merely stop at each individual, but rather to identify our connection to Jesus as He goes about bringing His saving work to the world, to all who will submit to His way, His Will, His gifts and His eternal life.

I found it interesting how powerfully the concept of this Communion was expressed by my father in the conclusions of various personal letters.  For example, to a member in the armed services:

Now that you are out of the country and far away – remember the times of service – and that every Sunday at roughly a half hour past the time of service we are remembering you before the Lord, may you feel our hand reaching out to you.  And at Christmas time try to get to church for Communion, so that thru the Blessed Sacrament we may meet at the Manger and receive Him, who once came wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, now is wrapped in bread and wine to lie upon the altar.  Keep our eye on His cross, and always bear in mind that it shouts to you that God cares, that He loves you, that it is a wonderful love for He loves us and continues to love us in spite of what we are and do – so that really when we look inside ourselves we must fall down in gratitude and wonder that He should ever want us, much less make us His children.

And to a woman whose husband Richard had recently died:

We shall be thinking of you … when we come to the Lord’s Table, when our Father gathers us to receive His special food for His children.  Here we are gathered before the Lord Jesus at the Altar.  The Revelation tells us that our Lord, the Lamb of God, is seated on the Throne behind the Great Altar, in front of it is the Church, the countless numbers of saints.  So we come to join in the worship of the Church in the Communion we are one in Christ, whether here or there. Here we join in singing the great praise songs, and if we listen closely we can hear Dick’s voice.  O, what a blessing is the Sacrament, as the Lord feeds us with the heavenly food we seek and need to sustain us in this life.

“As often as we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again!” [I Corinthians 11:26]  So He has things for us to learn and do while we are still here on earth, and in this special way, He assures us of His Presence with us until He calls us Home.  God is gathering His Family together.  First, the Lord Jesus came Home to prepare a place for us, that where He is we may be also.  Now He calls the rest of the Family one by one – Dick, and soon He will call us to be with Him and Dick.

What an extraordinary gift had been given to us just before Jesus died, a gift which never stops pouring into us all the Glory and majesty of the Love, the HESED, the AGAPE which compelled Good Friday and Easter to happen – not for His sake but solely for our benefit!   What a fantastic remembrance, ANAMNESIS, ZIKARON we have been called to, not as mere observers or audiences, but rather participants in the deep mysteries of how God partners with and brings us into the very actions of His heart in our world.

Come, let us celebrate now!  And as the Psalmist bids, “O taste and see that the Lord is indeed good!” [Psalm 34:8]


[i] Jean-Jacques Von Allmen, The Lord’s Supper, Ecumenical Studies in Worship No. 19 (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1969), 23-24.

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