Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
When in life we do something regularly enough it is said that it becomes second nature. What does that mean? Does it mean we are born with it within us? Therefor it is in our nature we just need to bring it out from deep within. Does it mean it is something we are not born with? Therefor it is not in our nature we need to be taught how to make it happen. Either way there is an element of moving from the unknown to the known, we are taken from our comfort zones into a place of discovery for some and a place of fear and trepidation for others. Every aspect of life involves moving from one place to another, it involves change and those comfort zones being challenged, if the same is not true about our journey of faith then what does that tell us about our faith? If this whole moving out proves to be problematic it can become a place that people will shy away from happy to be left where they feel safe and settled and secure. When we learn to drive a car mirror, signal, manoeuvre become three very important words for anyone who gets behind the wheel. The words themselves are not as important as the sequence in which we use them. Doing manoeuvre, mirror, signal can result in all sorts of complications so why do people continue to get the sequence wrong? Why do some people appear to have either forgotten the sequence of the words and the ensuing actions that they cause? Could it be the case people find them to be of no more use when have passed their test? When we hear something often enough, when we use it in our daily living it becomes part of who we are. It becomes our second nature. This morning we find ourselves in new territory but yet surrounded by so much of the old certainties of our faith in worship and in practice. This is my first experience of leading a Communion Service online. Much of what happens during the sacrament is familiar and been experienced many times over the years. Ministers in every aspect of serving the church received an email during the week from the new Moderator of the General Assembly, right Reverend Dr Martin Fair. He spoke about missing Communion in May as the Assembly was cancelled and suggested that this might be a good time to nourish ourselves and to remind ourselves of our togetherness though we be isolated physically. To that end he offered Communion last Friday. He recognised that online Communion is hardly a settled matter and that some will be uncomfortable with it. He thinks that much more theological reflection will be given to this subject and correctly, I think, he says that reflection will be the better for some practice to reflect on? He adds that in these extraordinary times it might well be that there is latitude to step into somewhat uncharted territory. I wonder then if in some ways this morning we are stepping out of a comfort zone in the practice of the celebration but we are taking with us our comfort blanket if you like. The familiar and the unknown coming together in many ways not unlike that Last Supper account we read in the Gospel narrative. Peter and John sent ahead with instructions. The only question they have is where will it take place. This suggests they are well aware of what will happen only the location is questioned. One question that could have been asked was why would it be a man they find carrying water as at that time it would be more customary to see women carrying water. Already we are seeing things that were different. The owner of the house, likewise, questions nothing, when the Disciples passed on the message from Jesus the man would be sure of their credentials and need ask no further indeed the room is already furnished. Later as they reclined at the table all began with familiarity with the layout of the meal. During the meal itself things again were beginning to look and sound quite different. Jesus is telling them this will be his last Passover meal until the fulfilment in the kingdom is established. This intensified as Jesus spoke of the bread being his body and the wine his blood. The cup to be seen as a new covenant as Jesus announces one of them will betray him by the end of the proceedings each of them would know this was something very different. Some of their old certainties were shaken as they were taken from their comfort zone. The old covenant, the promise from God to his people, had not been observed by the people. God in his mercy offers this new covenant. This will bring forgiveness and salvation to all believers. In this sacrament, all be it today celebrated in a new socially distanced manner, we remember Jesus suffering and death, the pouring out of his blood and how that becomes God’s seal upon it.