“Eating with Jesus” Meditation

When I was a kid, I used to watch the Mystery at the Lord’s Table. It was like a great passion play that unfolded before my eyes. The pastor, who was larger than life himself, in the flowing white robes and stole of his office, intoned the words of institution in His big, bellowing voice. The host held for all to see, broken in front of our eyes. The chalice of the blood of the new covenant blessed and revered. My mother and I stood in line waiting to come to the table once again. Mom sang the hymns from heart while her hands were busy holding my shoulders down and restless hands in place. There at the rail I watched my mom do the same thing she did every Sunday.

Wait. Kneel down, raise her hands up.

Same way, without fail, every time.

Wait, Kneel down, raise her hands up.

I went through my confirmation classes and learned about the Mystery at the Lord’s Table in ways that a young person could understand. I took my tests and went to the altar surround by classmates and even though I had learned, I still didn’t understand what this all about. Like many my age, I was simply doing what the grownups were doing, graduating like I was suppose to do. But when I came to the altar for the first time I didn’t forget what I had seen every Sunday growing up.

Wait. Kneel down, raise my hands up.

Same way, without fail, every time.

Wait, Kneel down, raise my hands up.

When I got older I went to school to learn about the Mystery at the Lord’s Table. I learned the big words that people use to try and describe what’s happening there. Words like transubstantiation, consubstantiation and sacramental. I became the person on the other side of the rail in that Great Passion play I use to watch. I wore the white robes and stole of office, intoning the words of institution in my own voice. Funny how the Great Passion Play never changed even though I did, and funny how it didn’t matter what side of the rail I was on, I was still me and in the same need of forgiveness that I always had been. But in spite of or probably because of all of the big words running through my head and my desire to do my part well and not mess up my lines of the play, the Mystery became something clinical to me, detached, professional. But no matter what side of the rail I stood I never forgot what I had seen and known.

Wait. Kneel down, raise my hands up.

Same way, without fail, every time.

Wait, Kneel down, raise my hands up.

Like it so often does, it takes a child with their childlike faith to remind us of why we do what we do and how very important it all really is. One day, one of the children in my church came up to me before service, grabbed my hand in her little fingers, and asked me with the deepest of sincerity, “are we eating with Jesus today?” At first, I didn’t know what to say. All of those big words running through my head foolishly tried to come out and explain to this little girl what was happening that day during the Mystery of the Lord’s Supper. But God bless the Holy Spirit that he keeps grown ups from saying foolish things to children who actually know better than the grown ups do. I realized that this little Christian girl knew something I had forgotten, “Yes,” I said. “We are eating with Jesus today.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ on the day God delivered him to the cross was sitting with his friends sharing the Passover meal. This meal, above all other meals, brought the people into God’s presence and His saving story for all people. The slavery, the pain, the loss, the promise, the rescue, the hope, all remembered and lived out in that meal. The story of old, Israel’s story, humanity’s story, their story right now, our story as well- same need, same promise, same God. Jesus took the bread, broke it like his body would be broken, saying this is my body that will bear the affliction and pain of humanity’s story, their story, your story. I am with you in this bread; healing, binding, forgiving all your sins. Then He took the cup, raising it in prayer, saying, take, drink, this is the cup of promise given to you, for you, for all; God’s promise that even in the midst of all of the pain and suffering of life I am with you and I am making all things new. When you do this I am with you, present, real in my body and blood in the bread and wine, feeding you, healing you, making you whole.

 Remember what it is you are doing today and who it is you are eating with. This day, and every time and every place that the Lord’s Name is proclaimed in the mystery of this supper we are eating with Jesus. He is the one present at the table, feeding, healing, forgiving all your sins.

Kneel down. Let the very presence of Jesus in this place and time, the sacrificed one and the risen one, break your heart and lift your soul. Let his presence break our sinful pride at the knee and kneel down before the Lord of all and the Savior of all. Know that it is for our sins that all of this had to happen, that he had to die for me, for my sins, my brokenness, my blindness, my stiff-knee hard heartedness. Break your sinful knees and fall before the underserved grace of God.

Raise your hands up. This is Jesus’ body for me. This is Jesus’ blood for me. This is not something done long ago and far away. This is not something that is done only in heaven above far from me. This is my Jesus for me. This is personal, this is for me, thank you Jesus for loving me.

Same way, without fail, every time.

Wait, Kneel down, raise your hands up.


Published by philipmcclelland.org

​I am a recovering burned out workaholic​ who forgot I couldn't change the world. From the ashes of that not only have I found a peace from God that I never knew but a focus on what matters, God, family and loving my neighbor as God has loved me. My burning out experiences really drive my writing and how much I want to share all of the good God has worked through the hurt I've experienced. Currently I serve a great little parish in Northern Ohio with my wonderful family and our furry farm of five dogs, four cats and the oddball handful of fish. You can find me at www.philipmcclelland.org.

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