Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us about the last supper in the upper room, just hours before Jesus is arrested and then put to death. In each of these synoptic gospels, the writer tells us that Jesus blessed and broke the bread and took a cup and shared them both with the disciples. Only Luke records the words that have become familiar to Christians everywhere and engraved on many an altar table: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
It is Luke who also reports an incident only two days after Jesus’ death to show just how important this final act of breaking of bread is. In his final chapter, he tells the story of two of Jesus’ followers walking along the road to Emmaus. Jesus comes alongside them and, astonishingly, they do not recognize him. Even as they carry on a conversation about all that has just happened and he teaches them again about the law and the prophets and the anticipated coming of the Messiah, they seem clueless. . .until they sit down to eat together. It is when he blesses the bread and breaks it that Luke tells us “their eyes were opened.” In that moment, they do indeed remember him.
John Wesley liked to speak of communion as a means of grace. What he meant by this is that when people participate in the receiving of the bread and the cup, it is a way for them to experience a tangible sign of God’s unconditional love. It is even possible, for those who have not previously professed the Christian faith, that their eyes will be opened. This is why, in the United Methodist Church, the table of communion is always open for anyone to receive. At the table, we are all invited to remember and give thanks.