Today is Maundy Thursday – the day we annually remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. The word “maundy” simply means command. We “do this in remembrance” of Jesus – sharing bread and juice/wine with each other, representing his body and blood – because he commanded us to.
Today is the annual observance of that command.
Of course, many churches obey this command more frequently than once a year. Depending on your denomination and tradition, some do it quarterly; some monthly; some weekly; and some, even, daily. My tradition, United Methodism, typically celebrates Holy Communion monthly, though in recent years we have been encouraged to move to weekly communion. For this season of Lent, my own church has celebrated communion weekly, instead of our regular practice of the first Sunday of the month.
We call this ritual by several names – Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”), The Lord’s Supper, and Holy Communion. Recently, I’ve been pondering the word communion.
There are a number of words that are related to the word communion…
- Common – as in, ordinary, and the things we share with “in common” each other.
- Community – as in, the people we share our lives with.
- Commune – as in, where some people live together as a family or community.
- Communicate – as in, the sharing of thoughts, ideas, concepts, or concerns.
- Union – as in, the gathering or joining together of things or people.
- Unity – as in, the one-ness shared between people.
- Unite – as in, the coming together of people for a common purpose or cause.
Isn’t that what Holy Communion is all about? We gather as a community, sharing common pieces of bread and juice/wine with each other, which unites each person with God, and results in a unity among the people gathered? This is more than a ritual observance, practiced obediently, because we were told to. This ritual is communion – connecting me more deeply with God and with the community of Christ, through common symbols representing his sacrificial flesh and blood.
It strikes me that all of us need a lot more communion in our lives – ritual, and otherwise. So much seems to drive us apart, distract us from God, and even divide our individual attention and intentions. This world – and all who live in it – is so disjointed, disconnected, and discombobulated (sorry, I needed another “d” word, for alliteration sake). It seems to me that obeying Jesus’ command to commune with him and with each other is much needed medicine – for all of us.
So, today is Maundy Thursday. You are commanded – by Jesus, himself – to find a church, to receive Holy Communion, and to enjoy the communing benefits.
Do it. Today. That’s a command.