A poem for Holy Thursday

This is a sort of free verse poem that I have written about the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. As the day that we remember Jesus’s last supper, Holy Thursday seems like an appropriate time to share it, but the focus is not just on the last supper, but on the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as it exists now.

I

This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.
This meat. A chunk of plain bread, broken in pieces.
This drink. A cup of plain water, standing in for wine–
the blood of grapes, crushed until their skins burst.
This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

II

This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood—
The body and the blood that clothed God.
When God himself came down as Eve’s son,
and walked the earth as a man, doomed to die.
When God became human flesh that coursed with human blood.
This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

III

This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood–
The blood pressed out of him by the weight of mortality,
The body  beaten, broken, and pierced by the whips and the sticks and the chains and the nails and spears of the world.
The body that became subject to the Spirit,
as the Son’s will is swallowed up in the Father’s.
This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

IV

This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood–
The dead body raised up, again a living man,
human yet, but no longer in death’s debt.
No longer dead flesh, but living bread.
The spilled blood no longer poured out, spent, smoking on the ground,
but a rising, bubbling well of living water.
This meat, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

V

This meat, and this drink,
to re-member the body and the blood–
for a man to take it in his fingers,
take in his lips, his teeth, his throat,
take into his belly, into his blood,
carry into his very heart,
and incorporate it, embody it, in all his flesh.

—But let him beware.
For who can eat this meat and drink this drink and not drink damnation to his soul?

Here is a man that promised in his youth to obey his God,
promised to keep all his laws and obey all his commandments,
promised to manfully resist all that was unclean, evil, or impure,
promised full of heart, full of confidence in his own resolve.
And his promise was sincere, and God smiled on it.

But the man’s vow was rash.
The feat he promised outstripped his strength,
with an enormity more enormous than he ever had supposed
(or than he even could suppose).
And he never had supposed that his strength was so small as it was.
So his commitment was as carved into wet sand before a storm;
his resolve, as written with water on dry rocks before the heat of the day.

And God knew of the coming storm and heat,
And knew that he could not trust this man’s vow.
But God smiled on his vow and would not deny it,
because the man offered it with pure intent.
So God hallowed it, and made his promise with this man, and put his name on him.

But then the storm came, and the waves, and the heat of the day.
And in the evening when the storm had passed, and the heat subsided,
the man held his vow broken.

And now the man remembers the body and the blood,
with a heart as broken as his vow,
and it strips him of his confidence,
of his pride in his would-have-been obedience,

But he remembers the body and the blood,
and his broken confidence yields to a hope unlooked-for–
a confidence not in himself,
A thing he never had supposed to find.
And he remembers the body and the blood.

And he eats this meat, and drinks this drink,
and witnesses that he remembers the body and the blood.
And he witnesses, although his flesh is weak, that he is willing.
Willing to obey his God.
Willing to sacrifice for his God.
Willing to keep believing his God can make him whole, to keep repenting, to love the poor, and to obey his duty to abstain from the unholy.
Willing to submit his flesh’s appetites to the Spirit’s will.
Willing to make his own soul, spirit and flesh, with all that he has to give, a consecrated offering to his God.
And that he is willing to bear his God’s name again—

And God is with him.
Because he is willing.
Because he remembers the body and the blood
In this meat and this drink
God is with him.

Comments

  1. charlene says:

    I appreciate your careful thinking thru of the significance of the Sacrament, our responsibilities and failures and the continuing love of God. Thanks for sharing.

  2. oh, I feel this. It hurts and fills me with peace and hope at the same time. The lack in me (when I notice it) is so great in my own eyes, and so insignificant in God’s when I accept communion with Them.

    JKC, thank you for this opportunity to worship with you. Blessings on you and yours this holy season.

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