a sermon, based on 1 Corinthians 11.23-26, preached with the people of Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, on Maundy Thursday, March 24, 2016
On Maundy Thursday, we commemorate Jesus’ institution of Eucharist. Let us reflect on what Eucharist is, guided by the Apostle Paul who reminds the Corinthian Christians and us of one thing expressed three ways.
First, Eucharist is the Lord’s Supper. Not the Corinthians. Not ours. As Paul says, “I received from the Lord what I handed on to you.” Jesus is host. We are guests invited to dine. So, the words of the hymn: “Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest. Nay, let us be Thy guests, the feast is Thine.”
Second, Eucharist is the Lord’s Supper. We come to the altar in response to His invitation: “Do this in remembrance of me.” Remembrance, from the Greek, ‘anamnesis; meaning more than mere mental recollection, but existential commemoration through which we join Jesus in the past and bring the past into our present. Again, the hymn: “We meet, as in that upper room they met.”
Still more, Eucharist is an act of celebration in which we join Jesus as he offers his body and blood, his life to us in offering ourselves one to another. Once again, the hymn: “One with each other, Lord, for one in Thee.”
Third, Eucharist is the Lord’s Supper. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,” Paul declares, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Jesus, committed to his mission of unconditional love and justice for all, willingly faced death at the hands of powers and principalities that sought to maintain privilege for the few. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim our intention to follow Jesus being as he is, doing as he does, living, willing to die, metaphorically understood, forsaking ourselves, doing something for the sake of love and justice for all.
Eucharist is the Lord’s Supper. We feast on the life of Jesus that we may become what, nay who we eat. In that spirit, let us pray:
One with each other, Lord, for one in Thee,
who art one Savior and one living Head;
then open Thou our eyes, that we may see;
be known to us in breaking of the Bread.
Illustrations: Christ with the Host, Pablo da San Leocadio, c 16th century; The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci (1494-1499), the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan; Crucifixion, Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge, 1894
 Words: George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959); my emphases