“He took it… He blessed it… He broke it… He gave it.”
These 4 phrases, known as the eucharistic actions of Jesus, convey not only the mystery of the Eucharist but also the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation and Passion itself.
These phrases appear in the accounts of the Last Supper, of course, but they also appear in another place in Scripture: the Feeding of the 5,000.
The pattern of Christ’s taking, blessing, breaking, and giving is established in this story first, the only miracle to be recorded in all 4 Gospels. In feeding the multitudes, Jesus provides a peek into the way He will feed even more through His death, resurrection, and ascension.
Our son A. loves to sing these 4 phrases as a sort of song: “He took it! He blessed it! He broke it! He gave it!” Yes, we taught him these 4 phrases. But what we didn’t teach him was a 5th phrase that he sometimes tacks on the end: “They ate it!!”
And this is a pretty crucial component, isn’t it?
It’s Thursday night, so we celebrated communion as a family tonight. Last week I was out of town so we weren’t together on Thursday, and the week before that our communion time was an utter failure. L. was tired, A. was mad, I lost my composure… it was a mess. So I was really looking forward to tonight, a chance to celebrate– actually celebrate— our time sharing communion together.
A. wanted to read from Tomie dePaola’s Miracles of Jesus book, which has become his go-to book for communion nights. He always requests the story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof; it seems to us that he loves the bold actions of the man’s friends, the humor of a roof being torn apart, the joy when the man actually walks, and the infectious praise when first the man and then whole crowd begin to give glory to God. Tonight we read this story and found new nuggets to talk about together.
But A. wanted to read another story, too, and he chose the Feeding of the 5,000. As we read, he started singing his song: “He took it! He blessed it! He broke it! He gave it! They ate it!!”
So we talked with him about the connections between the Feeding of 5,000, and the Last Supper, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. No handouts or PowerPoints or prepared notes necessary. As we brought out the matzah and the wine, we talked about how one time Jesus sat with His disciples and celebrated the Passover with them, and how once again He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it. Except this time, He added that His followers were to see this bread as His own body. And then He took some wine, blessed it, poured it out, and gave it. And this time, He said that this wine was like His blood. And yes, the disciples ate it. And we still eat it, too, almost 2,000 years later.
Wow, right? Wow!
After eating our matzah and wine, we took some time to pray for one another. We prayed for A., that the Holy Spirit would help him learn to listen for the still, small voice of God. We prayed for L., that he would be filled to overflowing with the love of the Lord, and that others would feel the Lord’s love for them overflowing from L’s own heart.
Then we asked A. if there was anything he wanted to thank God for. Of course! A. thanked God for giving him a mom who cooks food… and a dad who has a beard. Yes!
And then we called it a night. A few more minutes of playing, then brushing teeth, and finally p.j.’s and bedtime stories.
Nothing fancy, this matzah and Manischewitz. But this weekly tradition of ours has become almost hallowed in our home. Tonight as I was cleaning up I prayed, “Lord, I want to do this better.” And I sensed the Lord’s reply: “This will help.” Our communion time will never be perfect, but we don’t bring perfection to the elements. Over time, they bring perfection to us because they help us allow more and more of the Lord’s presence into our home, our lives, our hearts.
It’s good to be reminded that the Lord is still in the business of taking whatever meager things we have to offer and blessing them with His power and His presence. In the breaking He sanctifies the ordinary, and He continues to give… and give… and give.