Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 1Corinthians 11:27-29
I grew up in a denomination that celebrated the Eucharist often. It was part of our regular Wednesday and Sunday services and often the way to end or begin retreats and meetings. From the time I was sixteen on, I have always been a part of the guild that set up the altar and cleaned up afterwards, what my son when he was little used to call “washing God’s dishes”. To be quite frank, it became so routine that the meaning began to fade. It was just what you did every service, every time, by rote.
Then one day, God perked up my ears. Before every call to the altar for Eucharist, the minister would say the same sentence to us as he called us to confess first. Then we would all recite together the same prayer each week, the same one I had memorized from the time I was in elementary school. This time I heard his words for the first time in years. “Ye who earnestly repent you of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbor and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God, draw near in faith.” Oops.
How often do we go through the motions of worship and not really ever get around to it? We say the Lord’s Prayer or a blessing at meals as our minds wander to other things. We go to church because it is what we always do on Sunday or Wednesday, not because we need to be cleansed and fed, restored and renewed, taught and convicted.
Today is called Maundy Thursday (maundy means command or mandate). It is the day Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and broke bread with them in the upper room. It is the day of the new commandment, the day he told them that every time they broke bread to do it in remembrance of Him. I had not been doing that. I was doing it out of routine and duty.
Now, each time I kneel at the rail and receive, I do remember Him. I remember the times He has held me through sorrows, filled my heart with joy and guarded me from temptation. I recall the times He has forgiven me, yet loved me anyway. I remember His sacrifice for my soul. I re-dedicate my thoughts, heart and soul to Him, asking His blood to cleanse me and His Bread to fill me. I lift up my hands to humbly receive my Lord.