This is my body given for you…remember me. This is my blood poured out for you…remember me.—Luke 22:19–20 (paraphrase)
Plastic crinkles and tears—harsh sounds in the stillness. None of us imagined that we’d one day be partaking of the Lord’s Supper from individually-packaged plastic cups. That we’d be pulling masks down to eat and drink.
But this is where we are in this moment.
And I am grateful that though the elements we consume may change, the significance of eating and drinking with Jesus has not.
And I am grateful that at my church we get to have communion every Sunday. In pandemics, we need to be reminded of Jesus’s death for us. And we need to be reminded of this—often. Because we forget. We look around at brothers and sisters that Jesus died for and we forget that he died for us too. We see specks of dust on the faces of our brothers and sisters, not realizing that we are covered with the shavings of an entire tree.
We see faces and we are reminded of the thousands of Facebook messages posted and words spilled about masks, vaccines, political candidates and parties, our governor, race, and hundreds of other things relating to these and other things. Careless words, foolish words, unthinking words, bitter words, prideful and arrogant words, angry words, condemning words. Our ears re-hear these words when we see the faces that spoke or posted these words.
And in these moments, our hearts do funny things to us. We become angry and bitter all over again at these people that Jesus died for, forgetting that he also died for us.
So we must come to this Table week after week, because we need forgiveness week after week. We need to confess to our Savior week after week—our unforgiveness that we thought we’d worked through, the bitterness that we thought was gone, the anger that we thought we had moved past. We need Jesus. And we need him so very often and so very much.
My pastor tells us to not take the elements if we are harboring bitterness against someone in the church—and we need to be reminded of this every week because we forget.
We forget that Jesus’s body was broken for us—for me. We forget that his blood was poured out for each one of us. Jesus didn’t die only for the sinners in our congregations that disagree with us or have been particularly difficult this past year.
He died for me.
As he was dying 2000 years ago, he knew that 2020 was coming. He knew COVID–19 was coming and he died for me and my sinful responses and actions during this pandemic. He died for my unforgiveness so I could be forgiven. He died for my bitterness so I could be healed. He died for my anger so I could have peace. He died for my exclusion so I could be included.
He was given for me, so that I can be given for others. He was broken for me, so that my heart can break wide open for others. He loved me first, so I can love others. His heart is always for me, so my heart can be for his church.
So when I hear the words Jesus spoke on his last evening with his disciples, I hear them for me. And I remember that he came for me.