What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten?
I remember pizza, eaten from the box on the living room floor of my empty childhood home, while the movers loaded up the truck outside. Or maybe it’s the hamburgers my dad flipped on the grill every Saturday night, as long as it was above freezing outside. I wish I could say I remembered the food at my wedding (salmon, right?), but I definitely remember the pancakes, cardboard-like in density and texture, that I scarfed down in my hospital bed shortly after my daughter Claire was born. I remember these meals because they defined important moments in my history, or because the sheer repetition of the meal made it a ritual in my family’s life.
For centuries, the Jewish people have celebrated one meal, the Passover, as a memorial to the defining moment of their history: when God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The repetition of this meal, the rituals around food preparation and consumption, were to remind the Israelites that God alone saves.
In Mark 14, Jesus transforms the Passover Feast. No more will God’s people need to sacrifice a lamb. He, the one true lamb, will die to put an end to death once and for all. And to help his people remember their new relationship with God, Jesus gave us a meal. He took the two most common elements found in any meal back then—wine and bread—and turned them into new symbols of his love and sacrifice. Jesus wants this meal, the Eucharist, to be the ritual that defines his people and rewrites their history. Jesus wanted this meal to be habit-forming. That’s why each Sunday, we gather together to share it. We remember the things that we repeat.
My prayer for myself, for my children, for my church, is that the Eucharist is our most memorable meal. That the texture of the bread in my fingers and the taste of the wine on my lips will call me, call us, to remember:
· That it is finished—Christ has poured himself out on our behalf. There is nothing left for us to do but to drink in his love.
· That Christ’s spirit is in us—just as the bread is in us—and is working to renew us.
· That this feast is a foretaste of the eternal feast we will enjoy with him when he comes to make all things new.
So, as the liturgy reminds us each week, this Sunday, let us take and eat, in remembrance that Christ died for us, and let us feed on him in our hearts with thanksgiving
Jane Olson is the Director of Children's Ministries at Church of the Advent. She enjoys good food, good wine, and good company.