“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, this is my Body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’”
– Mark 14:12-25
Finally, after many weeks of Lenten discipline and observance, we arrive at the Upper Room, where Jesus institutes the Last Supper. How wonderful that the meal Jesus shared with His disciples that night so long ago, we continue to share with Him today.
The meaning of the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper is not that we are whisked back in time, as with the old TV show, “You Are There.” Rather, in the doing of the liturgy, in the reading of the account of the Last Supper, we participate in the Eucharist in our own time. It’s not that we are there, but that Christ Jesus is here, as He incarnates Himself once again, saying in our midst, “This is my Body; This is my Blood of the New Covenant.”
The word that is used to describe and explain this reality is “anamnesis.” It is most often translated as “remembrance,” as in “Do this for the remembrance of me.” It might be better for us to leave the original word, “Do this for the anamnesis of me,” because no English word translates it accurately. It means, in “doing this,” Jesus is re-actualized among us, re-presented among us as the Risen Lord, offering Himself to us in the bread and wine which become His real, true, actual Body and Blood.
As we gather at table with Jesus tonight, we are the disciples—we are the twelve, with Jesus as our Presiding Minister—the Great High Priest offering not an animal, but Himself for our forgiveness and salvation. And we receive Him, forgiven, redeemed, saying “Thanks be to God!”
Almighty God, in the Lord’s Supper, grant that we may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, that we may have eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prepared by Rev. Dr. David Wendell, North American Lutheran Church