A Poem for Holy Thursday (2019)

I posted this two years ago on Holy Thursday. I’ve tweaked it and made some revisions.

I

This food, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.
This food. A chunk of plain bread, broken in pieces.
This drink. A cup of plain water, standing in for wine.
This food, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

II

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

III

This food, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood–
The blood pressed out of him like oil 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 food, and this drink,
To remember the body and the blood.

IV

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

V

This food, and this drink,
to remember the body and the blood–
for a man to take it in his fingers,
his lips, his teeth, his throat,
into his belly, into his blood,
carry into his heart,
and embody it in all the cells of his flesh.

—But let him beware.

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

But the man’s vow was rash.
His promise outstripped his strength.
The feat he vowed to do outmatched him with terrible enormity.
He never had supposed that his strength was so small.
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,
with his heart as broken as his promise.
But he remembers the body and the blood,
and he finds a hope unlooked-for–
As he remembers the body and the blood.

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

And because he remembers the body and the blood
in this food and in this drink
God is with him.

Comments

  1. Margaret C says:

    Thank you for this deeply affecting poem Jared. It has helped me prepare for Easter and and to think differently during the sacrament service. I will continue to reflect upon it and I appreciate the insights it has provided for me.

  2. Remarkable and memorable. Thank you!

  3. As he remembers the body and the blood.

  4. We attended the Maundy Thursday service at the Episcopal Cathedral in Kansas City last night. Truly a moving experience — and now you bring back the tears to my eyes. Thank you. Remembering the body and the blood, indeed.