Scriptures and Reflections
April 17, 2003
On this night we remember back to an event in ancient times, to a time when God delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians. We read this text as a reminder to us that our faith is inextricably linked to the faith of Israel, linked to the God of all time and all place, linked to the God who promised from the beginning deliverance and salvation, and who keeps that promise through the Son. Let us take time now to remember and reflect upon all that God has done for God’s people throughout salvation history.
In the Psalmist’s song of thanksgiving, he remembers back to what God has done for him, affirming for all who read is lyrical song of praise that Yahweh is the God who saves. For the Psalmist, the knowledge and experience of Yahweh’s salvation has become for him a life-changing event. As you remember God’s salvific action in your own life through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, reflect upon how that salvation has changed your life.
The eternal words of Christ, written here by Paul, are the capstone in our Communion ritual and lives of faith. We come to the table, not simply as individuals, but together as the community of faith, in a single act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters, remembering, sharing, and uniting through the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Through the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup is more than just an act of remembrance, it is an act of proclamation, a proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that the one who died is now the one who lives, and will be the one who comes again. As we prepare ourselves for communion, let us reflect upon Christ's eternal words, and how they are for us the message of salvation to all who hear them.
Of all the stories in the Bible, this scene of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is one of the most moving. The narrative powerfully and passionately depicts for us a heart-wrenching scene not of Jesus' divinity, but of Jesus' humanity. In the facing of tragedy, all of us long for friendship and companionship, for loved ones to stand with us during times of sorrow and anxiety, fear and despair, yet Jesus must face this tragedy alone. Where he goes no one can follow, indeed no one is able to follow. He alone must face the burden and the suffering that lies before him. And yet, he is not alone.
His disciples may sleep only a few yards away, but there is one who does not sleep, who does not faint or grow weary, who does not turn away in the midst of tragedy. In the midst of his deepest despair, Jesus relies upon the eternal and loving companionship of God. It is this companionship, and indeed, this life-long communion, that gives Jesus the strength and the hope to proclaim, "yet not what I want, but what you want."
As we remember the events of this night, and all that Jesus endures for us, let us reflect upon our own communion and fellowship with God, and the strength and hope we have through God's eternal and loving presence.
Then Peter remembered. If only he had remembered before. If only he could turn back the clock and do it all over again. If only he could have another chance, another opportunity to proclaim his loyalty and his faith in Jesus. In the midst of stress and fear, and the threat of personal harm for the sake of the gospel, how many of us forget what we have known for so long? How many of us forget the message and promise of Jesus' words? How many of us just plain forget? Let us take time now to reflect upon this: When Jesus turns and looks at us, what will his eyes say about us? What will we be able to say about ourselves?