Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant men who ever lived, at one time lived in a small frame house in Princeton, New Jersey. One day someone asked Einstein for his telephone number. He looked puzzled for a minute, then asked for a phone book (I know. Some of you are wondering, “What’s a phone book?” Ask one of the older people after the service.) Anyway, I think it is interesting that Albert Einstein, a very smart man, did not even know his own phone number.
Was he simply forgetful? Not according to his associates. Albert Einstein simply refused to clutter his mind with inconsequential information. He remembered what was important to him and mentally discarded anything that was not. His home telephone number simply fell in the latter category.
Einstein was not only brilliant, he was wise. There are some things that must be remembered; there are other things that fall into the category of clutter and can be discarded.
We come here on this Maundy Thursday evening to remember the institution of the sacrament of the holy Eucharist during the event often referred to as The Last Supper.
Jesus and his disciples had gathered together to celebrate the Passover meal. St. Paul describes that dinner like this: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” This is why we are here this evening – to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of him.
First of all, we remember his death in our behalf. We take the bread and remember his broken body. We take the cup and remember his blood which was shed. The elements we receive remind us of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
There is a name that pops up in headlines nowadays. Certainly it did in last year’s presidential campaign. It is the name Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. Putin is quite a complex figure.
In her book When Character Was King, author and former speech writer Peggy Noonan tells about a meeting that took place several years ago between President George W. Bush and President Putin. It was their first meeting as world leaders and Bush wanted to be sure they connected. Bush wanted to look into Putin’s soul.
Bush brought up a story he had read about Putin. According to the story Putin’s mother had given him a Christian cross that Putin had had blessed while in Jerusalem. Bush had been touched by the story.
Putin told a story in response. He had taken to wearing the cross, and one day had set it down in a house he had been visiting. Strangely, somehow the house burned down. All Putin could think about was that his cross was lost in the rubble. He motioned for a worker to come to him, so he could ask him to search for the cross. The worker walked over to Putin, stretched out his hand, and showed him that he had already recovered the cross.
Putin told Bush, “It was as if something meant for me to have the cross,” inferring that he believed in a higher power.
Bush said, “Mr. Putin, President Putin, that’s what it’s all about – that’s the story of the cross.”
Now I don’t know what the cross really means to Vladimir Putin. I hope it is something real and that it affects how he deals with important issues. But I know what the cross means to us. It means that Jesus Christ lay down his life that he might be a bridge between us and God. We commemorate his death each time we take the bread and drink of the cup. We remember that he died in our behalf. That is something we dare not forget.
This, in turn, reminds us of just how much God loves us. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us,” says John in his first Epistle (3:1). We see that love demonstrated quite starkly on Golgotha’s cross.
Breaking the bread and drinking the cup reminds us of just what the cross cost God.
It’s like a chart posted on the Daily Infographic website. It is a listing what it calls “The World’s Most Expensive Meals.”
For example, there is a restaurant in Tokyo where a bowl of Ramen will cost you $110.
The Capital Dawg in Sacramento, California serves up what it calls “The Ultra-Dog,” the world’s most expensive hot dog at $145.99 . . .
In Scotland you can order a bottle of beer dubbed “End of History” beer which it describes as Belgian ale packaged inside the carcass of a squirrel that has been taxidermied. It will set you back $800 per bottle. Maybe that sounds appealing to you – drinking beer from the carcass of a taxidermied squirrel.
The most expensive meal on the list is found in Italy. It is Chef Viola’s “Louis XIII” pizza, loaded with lobster, caviar, eight different types of cheese, and seasoned with hand-picked pink Australian river salt. It sells for $12,000.
You and I will probably never partake of such expensive food and drink. But all of us can partake of what is undoubtedly the most expensive meal that can be imagined – the one that commemorates the death of God’s own Son. Think what the cross cost God – His most precious Son. But it was the only way God could show us the extent of His love for us.
This night we remember Christ’s death and we remember God’s love. But one thing more. We remember Christ’s promise to us – his promise to return.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Christ will return. God’s Kingdom will come on earth someday “even as it is in Heaven.” Every time we eat of the bread of the Eucharist, every time we drink of the cup, we are reminding ourselves that hatred and violence will not forever reign victorious in this world. The Lord of love, the Prince of peace, will one day establish his reign over all the earth. Remember these things – remember his death, remember his love and remember his promise that one day his kingdom will be established in this world.
There are some things that are of little consequence. If they are cluttering your mind, lay them aside, forget them. But there are some things that must always be remembered. Foremost of these is the cross of Jesus Christ. Eat the bread and drink the cup this night in remembrance of him . . . lest you forget.