Day 44 - April 1
WTS Assistant Professor of Worship and Chapel Elder
|Morning Theme Song:||
Pura Vida, Dom Omar
Remain ~ John 17
Our word for today is “remain,” and as I have meditated on Holy Thursday and its liturgies, the well-known Taizé song “Stay with me; remain here with me; watch and pray” has run on a steady loop through my mind. Many of us celebrate the service of “Tenebrae,” when we recall the story of Jesus in the garden telling his disciples to wait – to remain – with him as he prays. Then, on Good Friday, we recall the women who stood at the foot of the cross, remaining with our suffering Savior.
This focus on our task of remaining with Christ can, however, obscure Christ’s gift of remaining with us. Historically at least, Holy Thursday centers on the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, in which Jesus promises to remain with his disciples and offers them the wondrous gift of his presence. Indeed, Jesus’ high priestly prayer about the unity of Christian believers (John 17) should not be separated from his eucharistic promise in John 6:55-56: "My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.” What, then, does Jesus pray on the eve of his crucifixion, but that Christian believers “may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one” (John 17:22-23). The fundamental gift of Holy Thursday is therefore ecclesial: it is Jesus’ abiding presence and Spirit that produces the communion of the church, which is the body of Christ.
For many months now, our task of “remaining” has been that of staying at home, of remaining away from classmates and church members, of remaining behind masks and at a distance in order to care for one another and protect our communities from a deadly virus. There is no denying that this can be lonely work. But in that work, we should remember our Savior who remains with us – and within us –and who never ceases to knit us together across time and space in his holy body, the church.
Reflection: Where do you notice Christ’s presence remaining with you?