THE LORD'S SUPPER BY PASTOR ELWOOD

And he said, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. — St. Luke xxii: 15, 16.

THESE words were spoken at the most solemn moment of Jesus' life. He had staked all on this appeal to the nation and he saw that it had failed. He had gone up to Jerusalem and had offered her his salvation with little doubt of the outcome. John the Baptist's bleeding head told him of his own fate. "They have done unto him what they listed." Yet he hardly needed a spirit from the dead to tell him this. He who, rejected by the people, stretched out his hand to seize Messiah's crown could hardly doubt the reception which Jerusalem, the grave of the Prophets, would accord him. If Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum had rejected him, what had he to hope from the city that stoneth the Prophets and killeth them that are sent unto her?

Leaving, then, the terrible problem of his personal

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fate in the hands of God, he must at once face the question, How can the Kingdom of God stand and continue

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if the King, rejected and disowned, fall at the moment when he announces himself? We know the sad and terrible effect of this event upon those who loved him best, the scandal of his betrayal and death, which to all worldly wisdom involved his cause in certain ruin. How did Jesus meet this dreadful difficulty? He met it with an instinct of truth so profound that to this day we can only bow before it, without comprehending how he attained it. He saw that by his death he should attain that which he had not been able to attain by his life. He divined that he should serve humanity better by dying for it than by living for it, that "except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die it abideth alone." He declared in well - attested words that he would give his life a ransom for many.
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Before the blow should fall Jesus had one great desire which God permitted him to fulfil. It was to take leave of his friends and to find a way by which they might forever realize his presence among them after he should be taken from them. So in the face of his own inward sadness and deep depression Jesus once more forgot himself to perform the most gracious act of his life. He who in life had done absolutely nothing to unite the citizens of the Kingdom of God gave this pledge of his love which soon his dying lips would not be able to utter. After supper, when the bitter herbs were dipped in the bowl and the paschal lamb was eaten, Jesus solemnly rises, breaks a piece of unleavened bread, and gives it to his Disciples, saying, " Take, eat, this is my body." A little later he takes the cup and gives it to

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them, saying, "Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood
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which is shed for many for the remission of sin." This is the whole mystery of the Eucharist as Christ ordained it and explained it— simple, spiritual, infinitely touching, as are all things that come from him.

First let us consider Jesus' purpose in choosing a symbolical act which we perform together as the Sacrament of his Church. In human life we see these two opposing tendencies, the private interests and experiences that we cannot share with others, and which therefore separate us, and the public interests and common acts and ideals and memories that unite us and make us a people. Without this last there is no such thing as a nation. Without common acts, ideals and memories which we cherish together a people may be a swarm, a barbarian horde, but it is not a nation. For a nation is a spiritual principle; and when these common ideals and purposes are forgotten and obscured by private interest the life of that nation is threatened. So all nations have sought out uniting symbols that should be to them the outward and visible sign of their national existence, and these symbols have exercised a strange and magical power over the lives and hearts of men. The flag becomes the sign of our
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country's life, its liberty and greatness. For the stars and stripes it carries men are willing to die. When we behold it floating on high and remember the fearful sacrifices that have been made to keep its honor untarnished and the hope of humanity that is sheltered by its broad folds our eyes grow dim, and the more that

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flag is scarred by shot and shell and blackened by cannon-smoke the more men reverence it and the more willingly they follow it to death. Such an object ceases to be merely material. It is valued not for what it is, but for what it represents and suggests. The material thing becomes but the sign of our country's greatness and of the invisible ideals we cherish. It is the sacrament of our national life.

In our own experience how naturally do we invest material objects with the spirit and breath of our own
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life, the emotions we have felt in the use of them, or the associations they are able to recall. How many of us have had the experience of going back to the house in which our childhood was spent and have marveled at those eloquent walls, those speaking rooms, which fill our hearts with a flood of solemn and tender thoughts that we fancied were gone forever. The old house has passed into the hands of strangers, but it is ours in a sense in which it is not theirs. In its familiar recesses dwell the dear spirits of the past, invisible and inaudible to others, but visible and audible enough to us. There is the room in which your own dear children have lived and grown up. The furniture is old, but you have not cared to renew it since the birds have flown. The walls are disfigured with many marks where the children were measured. Why have you not obliterated them? That mirror is scratched with your diamond ring, but how many vanished faces look out of it wistfully striving to catch your eye! Especially do we prize those objects which remind us of our dead. Your mother's wedding-

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ring is the sacred symbol of her patient life. The Bible she read for fifty years, marked in a thousand places by the hand long since crumbled into dust, is to you a holy book. Even those objects it gives us pain to behold we cannot utterly put from us. The mother lays carefully away the clothes of her lost child, the little shoes of the feet which ended their short journey long ago, the toys he loved, the little soldier who used to mount guard upon his pillow; and sometimes when she is alone she loves to take out these sacred objects and to look at them and touch them and weep over them. They have a kind of sacramental value like the flag, not for what they are, but for what they suggest. They are the keys which admit us to an old and vanished paradise. They are magic mirrors in which we can see scenes and faces we can see nowhere else.

So Jesus, in taking leave of his own, left behind him his sacrament to remind us of him, to unite us to him and to one another. Looked at from this point of view, it is all so simple, so perfectly natural, that we dread to
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see theology lay its coarse hands on it and to explain it further than Christ has explained it. Jesus had one great and dear belief which he embodied here: that death could not break the bond which united him to those who loved him, but that death would actually establish a new bond which would bring him nearer than of old; that, though his Disciples would no longer see him and hear him audibly speaking to them, they would have his presence in their hearts and in their lives. "Abide in me and I in you." "Lo, I am

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with you alway even unto the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of you." Or, as he is purported to have said in a fragment of an old Gospel discovered in Egypt, "Split the wood and thou shalt
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find me; Cleave the rock, and I am there." It was as the constant reminder and pledge of this promise that he left us his sacrament on the night before his death. We know that this is true of all great souls. They live where they are doing their work. They are constantly incorporating themselves into the minds and lives of other men. While Goethe lived, hundreds of thousands of men carried in them living sparks of his soul. After death his influence became wider. But this is preeminently true of the spirit of Jesus. The one perfect example of a soul great enough to take possession of all mankind is Jesus Christ. He is the Vine, and we are the branches, the Vine from which we all hang like clustering grapes. Without this belief Christ would fade away into the mere memory of a god or man who trod this earth two thousand years ago. So many think of him merely as a departed being who once lived, but who long ago has disappeared into the great nether world of the dead, or is on his throne at God's right hand, far from the sphere of this world. We have Christ among us no more, we need him no more. We have his remains. We are living on the perfume of his broken vase and divide his inheritance among ourselves. The sayings and the treasures of faith, hope, and love
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which he left behind him are our inheritance, which

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have taken his place and over which we strive and quarrel in his name. For them we are indebted to him, but only as to a man of the past. But him we have not. Why, then, is the inheritance ever growing? Why is it that the perfume of our broken vase is not evaporated? Because Christ has not left us, because he is with us still, invisibly present among us as God is present among us. Now he is not bound to one place. He goes up and down no more on weary feet of flesh, but from one end of the world to the other he goes on the light wings of the spirit. And Christ, who is present in so many events of our lives, is present here in a higher sense. When we think earnestly and lovingly of him he draws near to us. The more earnestly and lovingly we think the nearer he draws. We eat his flesh, indeed, in the sense in which we understand his spiritual body,
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when we unite our soul to his in the sacrament and consecrate ourselves anew to his service.

In the sacrament of Christ we also hold communion with one another. Jesus declared this plainly by making his sacrament a great fraternal meal. St. John identified it with the feeding of the multitude so fully as to make no other allusion to the institution of the Lord's Supper. The instinct of the animal is to eat alone. He seizes his food and withdraws to eat it in solitude. Man does not desire to eat alone. If he feels the need of fellowship at no other time, he feels it when he eats. To break bread with another and to eat his salt is regarded as a sign of friendship among all nations. Even a savage scorns to break bread with his enemy

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unless he is first reconciled to him. So it has always been felt that hatred and enmity would break the bond
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of Christ's sacrament. So we are always bidden to come in love and charity to that feast, and those who are in enmity and hatred are warned to keep away, on the ground that they will eat and drink nothing but condemnation; for when the bond of love is broken the sacrament of Christ's death is invalidated. To make our fellowship plainer we actually consent to eat out of one plate and to drink out of one cup.

This much I presume is readily perceived. Among persons of education and refinement hatred and enmity, thank God, are not common. But the avoidance of them is but a shadow of the purpose and wish of Christ. What this Sacrament teaches, as far as our fellow-men are concerned, is that we shall be to them what Christ is to us; that as Christ has given all for us, we shall give all we have and are to others; that as he is constantly incorporating himself into us, so we should incorporate ourselves into other men, giving them constantly the best that is in us, which is divine life. If with this feeling of desire to draw near to Christ and through him to help men we approach the Sacrament, we shall fulfil his purpose, and we may have confidence that we shall be welcome guests. "Ye who do truly
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and earnestly repent you of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking henceforward in His holy ways, draw near with faith and take this Sacrament to your comfort."

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