Consecrating communion on Easter Sunday is tough. You don’t want to remind people of the events that were commemorated on Maundy Thursday, because Easter is on the other side of that “last supper.”
That is really the point. It wasn’t the last supper with Jesus. This Sunday we will read how the disciples were gathered for a meal when Jesus suddenly appeared to them. Then we have the Road to Emmaus story in which they don’t recognize the risen Christ until he takes the bread and gives thanks. Finally, there is the story with which the Gospel of John ends where the disciples fished the night through and then encounter Jesus beside the lake where he has cooked breakfast for them.
These resurrection meals give more complete meaning to the sacrament the church observes. It isn’t just a commemoration of the last meal Jesus had with his disciples. It was a Passover Meal, and, if all that happened was Jesus giving it new meaning, we would observe it once a year at Passover and remember what Jesus said and did. According to the Gospels, though, it seemed that, after the crucifixion, every time the disciples gathered for a meal Jesus suddenly was there.
That is how Jesus said it should be: “Where two or more are gathered in my name there will I be.” And so he was. When people of faith gather, a communion happens at which the risen Christ is present.
I suspect some of the greatest memories of our lives occurred at family gatherings around food. You may have fallen in love at a table looking across food and drink into the eyes of the one with whom you spend your life. Our last memories of grandparents, aunts, and uncles often were created at holiday meals.
My last meal with my maternal grandmother was at a time when she was almost too weak to stand. Still, she insisted on fixing her buttermilk biscuits, which I loved. Although she has been gone more than 30 years, even today, the smell of baking biscuits brings her back to me. She is resurrected at every meal when I remember her.
Perhaps that is what Jesus was trying to do, not only in his last supper, but in all the subsequent suppers after the resurrection.
Rev. Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director, Center for Progressive Renewal