Deans' Note June 19, 2022
Three of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention that on the night before he died, Jesus took bread, blessed it, shared it with his disciples and said, "this is my body." In the same way he took the cup of wine, and said, "this is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me." The evangelist John is the only one who doesn't recount this event. Instead, he tells us Jesus washed his disciples' feet on his last evening before he went to the cross.
That doesn't mean John isn't interested in the Eucharist. Jesus in John's Gospel talks extensively about the meaning of sharing on his body and blood earlier, in chapter six. He begins the story by telling us that Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with the hungry multitude. When everyone had eaten their fill, he invited the disciples to "gather up the fragments so that nothing may be lost."
This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Body of Christ. We reflect on the gift of the Eucharist Jesus gives the church. While we could reflect on many different facets of this mystery, the fact that this celebration, this year, is also Juneteenth, and a week before our celebration of LGBTQ pride gives a particular lens to look at the Eucharist.
Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of formerly enslaved people being restored to the dignity they already had as human beings created in the image of God. In the month of June, LGBTQ communities celebrate their own struggles for freedom as people created in God's image. Here, Jesus stands amidst the multitudes, giving the gift of the Eucharist to all who have been baptized and born anew as children of God, no matter where we have come from, who we are or who we love. We all eat this same bread broken and shared, all share this same new identity as beloved children
Now Jesus says to us, his disciples, "gather up the fragments that none may be lost." There are so many people who have been left out, discounted, "othered," injured by the sins of racism and homophobia, and all the other ways our society separates and denigrates people. Jesus serves this vast and mixed multitude and invites all the fragmented, all the broken, all people into his body. And we his disciples are meant to be his fellow servants and gatherers as well.