As a final and specially prepared Passover supper was ending, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his Apostles, saying, “Take, eat” (Matt. 26:26). “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). In a similar manner he took the cup of wine, traditionally diluted with water, said a blessing of thanks for it, and passed it to those gathered about him, saying: “This cup is the new testament in my blood,” “which is shed … for the remission of sins.” “This do in remembrance of me.” “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (Luke 22:20; Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:26). [this summation found here]
image by isafmedia on Flickr. Click on picture for source
In the midst of silence of heart and song filled lips I find myself seeking to have some kind of intimate knowledge of what these two elements reflect. All I can fill my imagination with is images that I’ve seen produced of the excruciating event of your body being broken for me, your blood filling the cup of grace and covering my life with your mercy. So often the rhythm of life has crowded out this image, has made it more palatable and seemingly more forgettable. It took a focus on the season of Lent and coming to understand the devastation of ‘Good’ Friday and the waiting of the disciples to come to an understanding of the horror of it all and the hope that would come, to really bring it to a different place for me.
As I sought an image to best express what I wanted to express about cup and my connection of it with communion, I came across the picture above. And everything about the picture beckoned to me. According to the photographer, it was taken during advent at a base in Afghanistan when the soldiers were having a service.
And I thought of the heat and the dirt crusting their faces. I thought of their mission to protect the people. I thought of the friends that they have lost along the way. I thought of the belief system that has to go so deep to keep them carrying on in the midst of such heart devastating situations.
And I saw them breaking the bread. I saw them drinking from the cup. “This is my body given for you…this is my blood poured out to you”
And I saw the brotherhood…I saw the cries, I saw the shots, I saw the bombs, I saw the fear, I saw the families torn apart…and I saw that his body was broken for all of this. I see the minds torn apart by horror, I saw the incalculable risks, i saw the determination for freedom…and I saw that his blood was poured out for this.
If anyone would understand some part of this sacrifice it would be these soldiers. That while their sacrifice does not spread freedom to souls, they are spreading freedom in the nitty gritty of life…in the every day moments, in the continued devotion to what they feel is their calling.
And as I reflect on the cup…on the bread…and those who experience what might be a reflection of the horror of that evening every day…I am thankful for the hope, for the peace, for the mercy and grace that flowed from that moment in history. A moment that overflowed a cup of humanity’s sin and washed it whiter than the whitest thing we can imagine…with the blood and body of the only one able to offer this beautiful sacrifice.