The church was fairly dark when I took this photo. The sky shown in through the blue stained glass windows, illuminating the chalice, and enhancing its silver tone. The altar area was gently illuminated by amber track lighting, which caused the gold on the altar to glow, and gave the background a warm color. The crucifix was illumined by purple lights inside the altar. (St. John recently purchased, and installed lights around the crucifix that can change their color according to the season). I used a time delay, and let the camera’s lens drink in the light. The picture is still a little dark, but I wanted the photo to reflect the dark reverent stillness of Lent.
The church was fairly dark when I took this photo. An organist was practicing, but the place still felt quiet, silent, reverent. The quietness of a holy place is a powerful solid stillness found in the whisper of God’s word and the awe of things sacred. (1 Kings 19:11-13).
During our Lord’s first Supper, it was probably quiet. The words He spoke were sacred: “This is my body. This is my blood. Given for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” The reality was quiet and hidden, but it was also no less momentous than at any other time the Lord was with His people. He was with His people through the sea and in the dessert. He was with His people in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple
fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” [2 Chronicles 7:1-3, ESV].
The Lord was in the Temple, but on one great day, from one sundown to the next, Christ tore the Temple curtain in two. Was it so we could go in to Him in Jerusalem’s Temple? Or was He coming out to us? He has come out to us in the Lord’s Supper. And He puts His real presence into our bodies. We, our very bodies are the new Temple of God. We are God’s Temple/Church/Congregation. When His Temple assembles in congregation, there He is in the midst of them. There He is inside of us.
Take and eat. This is my body. This is my blood. We are our bodies, and we are the physical Temple of God. We are the physical place on earth where God can be found, where He puts His very real presence. He is in human flesh, in bread, in wine, in us.
May you have a blessed Maundy Thursday.