We’re in the home stretch of Lent, something I don’t normally observe, except when it’s all over my black pants. But Easter, starting with Palm Sunday, is a big celebration of faith for our family. As a Sunday school teacher to 3rd and 4th graders and a substitute in the 5 and 6 year old classroom, I’ve been up to my neck lately in lessons about the Holy Season.
Last Sunday, I taught two classes on the Last Supper and what it means to take communion. One 5 year old was amused to learn that Jesus was made of bread, just like the Pillsbury dough boy and the Gingerbread man. “Wait, I think something’s been lost in translation here, Brandon. He wasn’t made out of bread. And NO the disciples did NOT eat Jesus at the Last Supper and NO, the wine did not come from a box with a spout like your mom drinks. (I hope they drank really good stuff like Morelino sangiovese or perhaps Turning Leaf Merlot if they were on a budget. I’m quite sure it was a red wine. It’d be difficult to represent Jesus’ blood with a dry chardonnay.)
After ten minutes of going back and forth with Brandon, trying to convince him that the bread and wine represent Jesus’ body and it’s actually a beautiful and holy act when we take communion, recognizing his ultimate act of sacrifice for our redemption, I read Mark 14:22-26 from the Bible and tried to explain more. Brandon simply laughed and said “I want to eat his arm!”
At that, I nearly sacrificed Brandon, ripping his holy arm out of the socket, (almost), muttering a Hail Mary under my breath, though I’m not Catholic and saying “let’s go find your mom RIGHT NOW! God is watching and he’s NOT happy. In fact, he’s going to tell the Easter Bunny about your lack of respect.”
Later that night, after finally getting Andrew and Jack to come down from their Cadbury chocolate egg sugar highs and go to bed, I needed to de-stress. A long, hot bath would do the trick. Our home’s previous owner seemed to have a thing for jugs, jars, vases, decorative containers not including Tupperware. She had pictures of them sketched across the master bathroom walls. Not wanting to depart from the theme, I added a couple of prints (from Big Lots, of course) depicting ancient jugs and wine bottles. As I lay in the bath, having the ultimate Calgon moment, staring up at all the jugs, I was reminded of the wine that Jesus served his disciples at the Last Supper. I wondered if his jug looked anything like the ones on my walls.
I visualized Jesus breaking the bread and pouring wine into cups, ceremoniously, methodically. This act that was lost on some of his disciples would become a cornerstone ritual of our faith, demonstrating our acceptance of his death for our sins. Lost in the moment, I gazed absently at one of the Big Lots prints, two alabaster jugs, one tall, one short, with a large bulb of elephant garlic strategically placed between them. Then a strange thought occurred. I’m so glad that Jesus broke bread to represent his body, rather than a bulb of garlic. Can you imagine having to eat a malodorous garlic clove at every communion? I’d hope the church would pass out Altoids afterward, or at least serve it as garlic bread or garlic fries. Imagine how terrible priests and members of the Disciples of Christ denomination would smell. Single members would never find a date outside the church. Perhaps people with severe garlic breath would be assumed to have very strong spirituality.
On Easter Sunday and whenever you take communion, as you prepare to eat the morsel of bread or wafer, remember to be grateful. Not only for Jesus’ body which is broken for you, but also for the fact that it’s bread and not garlic, or rutabagas, okra, or bok choy. If it were, though, I’d learn to hold my nose and be grateful it wasn’t arsenic. See, there’s always a bright side.