Every night, we have ice cream at 8:00. And some evenings, we have it at other times, because it's 8:00 somewhere. We are living it up in our locked up condition.
Last night, before our evening constitution, Peter brought us all together at the dining room table. There were four cups of fruit punch and four white cheedar Cheezit crackers.
He said, "Guys, it's kind of a big weekend. And even though we can't go to church and celebrate and remember the way we always do, it's important that we don't let this pass us by. We need to remember."
(I fell in love with him again, with this man who would lead my young men in Cheezits Communion.)
"Men, when Jesus was in the Upper Room with all of his guys, it was his last dinner with them before he would die. He ate a meal with them, and he asked them to keep eating it after he died, to keep remembering after he was gone. He said he would eat with them again someday, and he wanted them to remember this: the way it is now isn't how it will always be. He was going to die to make a way for them to come to him."
"So, how did people get to heaven before Jesus came?"
"Oh, pal, they had to follow so many rules. More rules than you can imagine. Rules like, 'Don't drink out of that cup. Don't wear those pants on this day.'"
"I know, right? Hundreds and hundreds of rules to follow every single day. And anytime they broke one, they had to start all over again to make things right. They had go to the priest and ask forgiveness, and he would tell them which animals they had to kill as a sacrifice."
"That's a lot of animals, Mom."
"A lot of animals. And a LOT of blood. Blood was a very big deal to them, and it was how they made things right with God again. Something had to die in order for people to come anywhere near God."
"Why were there so many rules?"
"Because God was asking his people to live differently. He wanted them to be like him, and he needed to raise the standards."
"That sounds like Pete," one of them mutters. "Raising the expectations around here." Touche.
"But when Jesus came, he made a new plan. He said there's only one rule now: Love. Love God, Love People. That's it. And you don't have to kill all the animals anymore, because my blood will be the sacrifice. My blood, poured out one time, will be enough."
"So, the blood of Jesus was in place of all those sacrifices?"
"Yes. He became the sacrifice. And he changed everything with that new plan. It used to be that people had so many layers of people and rules between them and God, but now we get to talk to him whenever we want. He brought himself close to us by living on earth, and he made a way for us to be near him, by pouring his blood out for us."
"And so, let's eat and remember." We each eat the Cheezit, crunching louder than we do in church.
"And we drink the cup." We each drink our fruit punch.
I noticed the Peter's thumb is stained from stirring the powder mix. There's something unspeakably sweet about a red stain on his thumb, from preparing a meal for us to remember.
When I was in high school, I went on a missions trip to Hong Kong for two weeks. We visited underground churches, we smuggled Bibles over the border into China, and we celebrated Good Friday and Easter in a place where such things were a secret. Our communion meal was apple juice and sticky buns.
Max Lucado tells about the time when he was a kid, when he so longed to be cleansed and made new after a terrible weekend where some regrettable things happened. He said, "if I ever needed a communion service, I needed on that day. And so I staged my own little Eucharist. I waited until my mom and dad had gone to bed, and I went into the kitchen. I couldn't find any crackers in the fridge but I found some potatoes from the Sunday lunch. I couldn't find any juice, so I used milk. And I placed the potatoes on a saucer, and I poured the milk into a glass. And right there in the kitchen I celebrated the crucifixion of Christ and the redemption of my soul."
Apple Juice and Sticky Buns.
Milk and Potatoes.
Cheezits and Fruit Punch.
Ritz Crackers and Coffee.
Bread and Wine.
Choose your sacrament.
We eat, we drink, and we remember.
We remember what he did.
We remember what he will do.
We remember that he's coming back, that we will feast with him.
Eat, drink, and remember, even though we can't do it together.
Especially this year on this day, it's a good time to remember: it won't always be this way.
~ ~ ~
"If all the cathedrals on earth were gone,
all the most glorious art were lost,
and all of the world's most valuable treasures were thrown out,
Christians could and would still meet for worship
around the Scriptures and the Eucharist.
To have church, all we need is Word and sacrament."
Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary