While at table with his friends

From a series of Lenten devotionals sent out daily by my internship parish in Bronxville, NY.

Words of Institution – Wednesday, March 29th

During this season of Lent we will send a brief daily reflection written by parishioners. Inspiration for these reflections comes from the words we hear and say during the Holy Eucharist each week in Lent. These are the words that shape us.

While at table with his friends, on the night before he stretched out his arms between heaven and earth in the everlasting sign of your covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat: this is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.

After supper, he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink this all of you: this is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.

Jesus was at table with his friends. When Jesus told the disciples to “love one another as I have loved you,” (John 13:34), it was not just an abstract philosophical kind of love that exists in invisible swirls or polysyllabic philosophical ideas. It is the kind of love between friends, a love that we know when we express it for each other. A love cultivated on many long walks between Galilean cities, picking and munching on the gleanings from the fields, sitting together on long swelling boat rides across the sea. A love found in the holy feast that Jesus first invited his friends to and continues still to invite us.

It is a love so great that, for its friends, it laid down its whole life so that life could be given. That love stretched out its arms on the hardwood of that brutal violent tree, stretching like a bow in the sky between heaven and earth to show the kind of whispered promise you would expect a friend to keep.

Jesus does not choose us as his friends because we went to the same school or because we live on the same street or like the same music (though I am nearly certain that Jesus also likes the Avett Brothers). Jesus did not choose us by either impeccable luck or preference — he chose us because we were created by God and called “good.” Jesus sees us — in our homes and cars and jobs and tax booths and fishing docks — and he knows intimately that goodness in us, and loves us perfectly. And he gives us to one another as friends around his table, binding us in holy friendship to each other and to him. We are grains of wheat ground and baked together — we are grapes which are pounded and formed together into wine.

Behold what you are. May you become what you receive.
Caitlyn Darnell Cradle Episcopalian. Yale Seminarian. Quarter-centenarian.

John Keble
Come near and bless us when we wake,
ere through the world our way we take;
till in the ocean of thy love
we lose ourselves in heaven above.


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