Great and Holy Thursday
‘Do this in remembrance of Me…’
Memory is at the heart of the service of Great and Holy Thursday – Our Lord’s inauguration of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, in the Upper Room.
What is more, it is a very special kind of memory.
We all know about the various techniques that help us to remember proper spelling or people’s names. They are called mnemonic devices, that is, devices to assist memory. But the Last Supper calls us to remembrance in a very different way.
The events before His Passion are not simply called to mind, like the name in an old photograph, or an event in a history book. No, these events are made a living presence, bringing past and future alive for us in the present.
We Orthodox Christians believe that every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is the real presence of Our Lord – the bread and wine are truly His Body broken and His Blood spilled for us in the very same way as for His disciples in the Upper Room.
At one and the same time, we experience…
…the spiritual perfecting of the Passover events surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt and the covenant with Moses
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. (Jeremiah 31:31)
….our present partaking of the ‘medicine of immortality’
Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. (John 6:54-55)
….and a future declaration
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (I Corinthians 11:26).