When I was a little girl in a big church, the ushers all wore dark suits and ties and dark expressions on their faces.  The ministers–always men–wore dark suits as well, even during worship.  We usually had Communion just a few times a year, on certain holidays.  The holiday that was most traditional for us to observe Communion was Maundy Thursday.  Why wouldn’t we celebrate Communion then?  That is when Jesus gave future generations of followers the “meal” that would bind them together in remembrance.

The Sunday before Communion we were encouraged to examine our hearts and our lives so that we did not “Eat and drink damnation on ourselves.” (1 Corinthians 11:29).  I was afraid of Communion for a great many years, because of those sour-faced saints who warned about the possibility of damnation by “doing it wrong”.

It was so many years later that I learned why Paul even said those words and what he was warning the Corinthian Church about.  In the Corinthian Church, those who were wealthy had all of the leisure time in the world; they arrived at worship first and they ate and drank however much they wanted.  When the poor arrived later, the meal that was left to them was often dribbles of wine and crumbs of bread–a mere pittance left for those who truly needed to be fed.  This is the self-examination that Paul was asking them to do:  “Why are you treating your fellow believers so horribly?  Why have you deprived them of the Holy Meal?”

It took me another couple of years to understand that the word Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum which means commandment.  The commandment of Maundy Thursday is to love each other as Jesus has loved us.  I know that I have told you this before, but it bears repeating, because many of us still look at Maundy Thursday as being dark and dismal.  Let us reframe our understandings of what it means to love as Jesus has loved us.  In love there is pain; we honor the love of Jesus on Maundy Thursday when we remember that it was a painful time for Jesus.  But in love there is also joy; it is not one or the other–it is both at the same time.  The love of Jesus was so intense that he was willing to risk physical, mental, and emotional pain in order to show love to us.  This we must remember!  This we can believe!  This will bring us joy!

So for your Maundy Thursday “meal”, set a place at your table for those who shared your life, but are now on the other side of eternity.  Picture those that you loved most in your life who have gone on to glory as being at the table with you.  Make your “meal” as simple or as complex as you would like, maybe something that you ate with your loved ones all the time, maybe a favorite snack.  Communion doesn’t have to be bread and wine (but it can be if you choose that).  Communion is the act of interacting; communion is shortening the distance between you and those that you love until the divide melts away.


Do this in remembrance of Them…

Do this in remembrance of Jesus…

Do this in remembrance of Love…