Mennonites do not celebrate Jesus’ last meal very often. We have a lot more potlucks and fundraising meals in our tradition, than sharing the bread and the cup together. It is probably because during those difficult times during the Reformation (500th anniversary this year), we wanted to move away from all things Catholic. So, in many Mennonite churches, we only celebrate it twice a year.

Each of the biographies of Jesus of Nazareth they talk about the last meal. The menu is not recorded, other than a little wine and bread at the end of the meal. Jesus takes the bread and the wine, and gives them meaning for about what is going to happen after the meal. Jesus makes the bread and wine symbols of his suffering and death.

There is tension at the meal. Judas is at the table. He has taken care of the finances and there is gossip that he has stolen from the kitty. Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him. The other disciples have some disagreements as well. But Jesus gives everyone the food that evening.

We cannot have a romantic view of this last supper. It was part of Jesus’ friend’s walk with him all of their lives together. They were a diverse group of believers and were trying to understand faith in Jesus. They are as human as the rest of us, and so there is no surprise that the supper would have been a struggle for everyone. Even Jesus would have had a short temper, knowing his life was at the end.

In the story written by John, there is a long conversation and prayer with Jesus and his friends. Jesus is passionate in his love for them. He tells them he is going away. He means he is going to die. He promises to not leave them alone, but will send to them the Spirit of God.

So, how do you come to the communion table ? Do you come looking for forgiveness ? Do you come trying to find new access to God? I am sure your church and it’s members have different views on issues that are in the world. The church tries to reenact the meal, so that we might be one. It is supposed to be a coming together of the people and of God. What will the bread and cup do for you this week ?

In the church where I am now attending, we will celebrate the Last Supper on Good Friday morning. I do not know the community well, and so it will be a new experience for me. And I need to lead it. I will try to lead them to the presence of God. No, I will let God do that.

Prayer

As I prepare to take the bread and the cup,

Create in my a clean heart.

As I meet you at the Table,

Create in me a clean heart.

As I will share this food with others,

Create in me a clean heart.

As I look to you for new strength,

Create in me a clean heart.

Come Lord Jesus, but my/ our guest.

Create in us a new heart.

AMEN. THANK YOU.

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Fred Redekop
Fred has completed 25 years as pastor in Floradale. He now works for Mennonite Central Committee since October 2016.