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I am the resurrection and the life — Jesus

At the church where I am a member, we will be gathering around the Lord’s Table twice: Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. It surprised me when I saw that. But then I was reading the end of the Gospel according to Luke, and I saw this wasn’t the first time that bread was shared on Thursday and again on Sunday.

As Luke tells the story, Jesus sat Thursday with his disciples – even with Judas the betrayer. Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Then comes Gethsemane, guards, Golgotha and a grave.

Three days later, Jesus joins in on a walk to Emmaus. He is invited to turn aside, to sit at a table with those who don’t recognize him. But then Jesus does it again: “he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.”

This time. . .surprise! Their eyes are opened and they see Jesus – he is risen!

Remembering Death

Do you have any tastes that remind you of a loved one who has passed away? A strong one for me is Karo Dark Corn Syrup – cold, straight from the fridge. It was always at the breakfast table when we visited Grandpa’s farm. (Yup – this was in the cornfields of Iowa, not the maple syrup lands of Quebec!)

It’s a strong taste with a strong set of memories. Even the mention of it brings back the smell, the smile, the strength of my grandpa. I also remember his weakened body as he battled ALS, and then the mercy of cancer coming quickly, a strange grace carrying him to Jesus.

I wonder. . .what would it be like if Thursday night really was Jesus’ last supper? Would the taste of bread bring back a flood of memories? Would followers of Jesus remember his parables, laugh at his mood swings, until the group succumbs to a sorrowful silence as all remember the horror of his crucifixion?

Re-membering Resurrection Life

Praise God that a Thursday evening meal was not Jesus’ last supper. He broke bread again. . .after the resurrection.

And his resurrection changes everything.

Our memories of Jesus don’t end in sorrowful silence.

That horrifying crucifixion event is also a source of hope.

And even eating bread – “This is my body” – is transformed.

It is not the taste of death, but a source of life. Maybe not in a magical way, but surely mystical. We take into ourselves the body of the living Jesus, a tangible sign and seal of our union with him.

Years ago, I joined in worship with a community that weekly gathered at the Lord’s Table. I picked up a new habit: I stopped eating breakfast on Sunday. Now you must know, I NEVER miss breakfast. But the absence added to my awareness. At the Table week after week, my mouth would salivate as the loaf was passed. I would tear off a chunk, put it in my mouth, chew, swallow. My empty body could feel the “body of Christ” descend down my esophagus. I could feel it rest in my centre. A tangible union.

This isn’t Karo syrup. It is not a remembering of one who has passed. This is the body of Christ. We are re-membered with the resurrected one, the source of life.

How do we live out of that mystery, our union with Jesus?

I wonder. . .have we been confronted by lingering attachments to forms of pseudo-life? Lenten absences sometimes raise our awareness. Some gave up coffee, others video games. My daughter tried giving up sugar. While not evil things, I do wonder if Lenten “fasting” helps us empty ourselves of false reliances. Will our Easter encounter with resurrection turn us toward the true source and quality of life?

Might we renew our trust that Christ’s life-in-us is more than enough? We gather around a table where we ingest small bites of bread, yet partake in the mystery of being re-membered with life himself. But we all remember what happened with just a few loaves and fishes. Life, in Jesus’ hands, becomes abundant.

And the connection doesn’t end with Jesus; who else shares the same loaf – before us, after us, surprising to us?

Already, the resurrection transforms our experience not only of life, but also of death. How else could I look at my Grandpa’s death by cancer as a “strange grace carrying him to Jesus.”

May God’s Spirit transform us as we shift from Lent to Eastertide, from remembering the dust of death to being re-membered with the resurrected Christ.

I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.

Paul Verhoef

After spending childhood years in South Dakota, Ohio, California, Colorado, Iowa, and Michigan, Paul Verhoef was called to Canada in 2004. His acceptance in that foreign land is helped by his marriage to Monique, one of those great Canadians. Paul accepted a call to be the first Christian Reformed Chaplain at the University of Calgary. He still enjoys that calling after almost 18 years. When the Verhoefs moved there, they had one baby. Now their house is filled with the joy and chaos of three teenagers. 

5 Comments

  • Jim Payton says:

    You have brought us a moving reflection, Paul — especially what you point to as “re-membering” as we partake of the Eucharist. This is a mystery to be joyfully celebrated and received in wonder. Thank you for this reminder.

  • Rodney Haveman says:

    The smell of cigars bring me back to my grandpa Haveman’s lap.
    The smell of Kielbasa draws me to my grandma Swanson’s kitchen.
    There’s a memory but there’s also a re-membering in those moments, like these gifts draw you to those thin places where heaven seeps through, a sort of Passover/Communion memory, mystical solidarity and presence.
    Happy Easter!

  • Gary says:

    On what date did the Resurrection occur? Thanks.

    • gary says:

      Christians claim that a man who lived 2000 years ago is the creator of the universe, ruler of the cosmos, and that after his public execution, he rose from the dead and appeared to over 500 people. Yet they don’t have the dates of his birth, his death, his supernatural resurrection, or any of the post-death appearances to crowds of dozens and even hundreds of eyewitnesses. Not one single date.

      And we aren’t talking about the Stone Age. People kept records in the first century of the Roman Empire. They weren’t cavemen. They weren’t idiots.

      Why don’t Christians know the date of birth of the “King of Kings”???

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