In Remembrance

By Jennifer Woodruff Tait

March 27, 2024

Scripture — 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NRSV)

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


“Every Sunday is a little Easter,” I have often heard people say, and it is true, because every Sunday celebrates Christ’s resurrection. But in one way, every Sunday is also a Maundy Thursday.


Normally as I write these devotions, I reflect on the Scriptures assigned in the lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. At one point Life for Leaders published reflections from contributors other than Mark Roberts on Saturdays and Sundays, and I became accustomed to writing on the Scriptures that would be preached on the Sunday when the devotionals were published. When we other contributors moved to Thursdays and Fridays, I kept up the practice of focusing on the (now) upcoming lessons, as I thought it was good preparation for worship to have several days to reflect and pray on the lessons.

I have said all of that to tell you that, today, I’m not going to do that. It’s Holy Week—the holiest week in the Christian liturgical calendar—and Mark has been reflecting throughout the earlier part of this week on the meaning of Holy Week for our discipleship and our work. (If you want to read more about the history of Holy Week in general, you can look at this devotion which I wrote for Palm Sunday 2022.) Today is Maundy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday, and, in my tradition, they have their own sets of lessons all to themselves. Today I will reflect on the Epistle reading for Maundy Thursday this year, and tomorrow I will reflect on the Epistle reading for Good Friday this year.

“Maundy” Thursday itself is called that from the Latin word mandatum, which means “commandment,” and the name got attached to the day because of Jesus’s statement in John 13:14 that he is giving us a “new commandment” to love one another. (The statement is read as part of this year’s Gospel lesson.) Christians have historically also felt that the “mandate” included the celebration of Communion, remembering how Jesus is reported—here and in Matthew, Mark, and Luke—to have asked us to take bread and wine in remembrance of him.

While the Gospel lessons for this day change every year in a three-year cycle, the Epistle reading is always the same. It records Paul’s report of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and in most Christian traditions the Supper is always celebrated on this day. When I was a small child in the United Methodist Church, before a liturgical renewal movement that led Methodists to take Communion more frequently, we received the sacrament six times a year: once a quarter, plus World Communion Sunday and Maundy Thursday.

Paul’s statement here, combined with the ways Jesus talks about what he is doing at this meal in Matthew 26:26–29, Mark 14:22–25, and Luke 22:17–20, form the core of many churches’ Eucharistic prayers over the bread and wine, not just on Maundy Thursday, but every Sunday. From what we understand of early Christian worship, they believed two things were most important to say as the presider prayed over the bread and wine: God’s mighty deeds should be recalled, culminating in Christ’s institution of the Lord’s Supper (this was referred to as anamnesis from a Greek word for remembering), and the presider should pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon the elements and the congregation in the present moment (this was called epiclesis, from a Greek term for summoning a god.)

I have said all of that to say that, on Sundays when I stand before my congregation in the Episcopal Church and preside over the Eucharist, I say something which sounds very much like Paul’s words here. Some of the earliest writings in the New Testament, recording one of the holiest acts of our faith, have come all the way down from that first Lord’s Supper on that first Maundy Thursday to the keeping of Jesus’ mandatum—to love one another and to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes—in my little parish in Kentucky. And thousands if not millions of other churches around the world, too, of course.

“Every Sunday is a little Easter,” I have often heard people say, and it is true, because every Sunday celebrates Christ’s resurrection. But in one way, every Sunday is also a Maundy Thursday. We remember his sacrifice and we proclaim his death until his coming again.

And we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us, too. Let’s not leave that part out.


What has God done in history?

What has God done for and in you?

How on this Maundy Thursday can you pray for the coming of the Spirit?


There are so many wonderful recordings of the hymn we know as “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” I like this one for this Maundy Thursday: it is contemplative and prayerful, and the lyrics are right there on the screen. I urge you to spend some time in prayer today, especially tonight—the keeping of a vigil on Maundy Thursday evening is a very ancient practice—pondering these words and this message.


(Prayer for Maundy Thursday in the Book of Common Prayer) Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Future in the Lord’s Supper.

Jennifer Woodruff Tait

Editorial Coordinator

Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University; MSLIS, University of Illinois; MDiv/MA Asbury Theological Seminary) is the copyeditor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also senior editor of

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