Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Devotional for Maundy Thursday


The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.  
1 Corinthians 10:16-17

My father, a chemist for NASA in the 1960s and ’70s, used to study the first satellite photos of the earth. I remember the day he brought home some images and pointed out early signs of ozone depletion over the poles. His voice was grave as he warned of the need to care for the fragile planet on which we live. I share his sadness today as I look at NASA’s famous “earth rise” photo that now hangs on my own wall. The visible half circle of our home planet, so blue with life, floats in black space above the moon. It hovers there like the Body of Christ that I raise each Sunday in doxology over the rim of the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic prayer. 

Photo credit: Dominus flevit by Berthold Werner
In the well-known window of the Dominus Flevit (“The Lord Wept”) Church on the Mount of Olives, we see that same raised bread and chalice framing the city of Jerusalem below. This church commemorates the moment in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus wept over the strife and lack of understanding that would lead to its destruction. Looking down on the city that would crucify him, Jesus longed to gather its people together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Like my father’s sorrow for the damaged earth, Jesus’ love for Jerusalem was filled with heartbreak. 

To share in Christ’s Body and Blood is to frame one another and all creation in the heartbreak of this love: love that pours itself out for all life, love that opens us to transformation, love that makes us one. On this day in which we remember Christ’s commandment to love, may our hearts break wide open—not to bleed with sadness, but to pour out life-giving care for our fragile planet and all its inhabitants.

Loving God, you long to restore us to unity with one another and with creation. You long to heal us and make us whole. Break our hearts open, that we may live into the blessing of the Cross and the hope of resurrection. Amen.

The Rev. Anne F. Downs Richter is a priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where she works in the area of youth, child, and family formation. She is also working on her STM degree in church history at the School of Theology of The University of the South.

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