Yesterday, Lent 5, Atrium 1 was busy with children thinking about the Kingdom of God through their work with yeast, mustard seeds, the Precious Pearl. Others heard again the events of Holy Week as they and the catechist placed the walls and buildings of Jerusalem into the right spaces on the map model to build this City. Still others thought about the bread and wine, the elements of our weekly Eucharist: some prepared cruets, others thought about the gestures, the “prayers without words” offered by the priest. Still others set the altar and named again what the objects they see there each week.
But most of my work yesterday centered on showing children the Cenacle, or Upper Room, in which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples. In this feast, we think about the words Jesus said which no one else had ever said before: “This is my Body, This is my Blood.” As we consider how each disciple eats this bread and drinks “from the same cup,” we also learn they went out to the Mount of Olives, and how Jesus died and on the third day, rose.
We look at the Upper Room after we have removed the disciples to the garden. The table they leave behind is still set with the paten and chalice. We bring out a cross, and two very small candles which we light. We might ask, “What does this remind you of?” and consider how this feast Jesus has left us is one we see each week, and how He is present in the bread and the wine. We declare: Jesus is always with us, in the Bread and in the Wine.
On this day, as is so often the case, it was not until I lingered over my brunch at home did I realize I’d heard a declaration too wonderful not to share. One of our most forthright five year olds, someone who often has ideas of her own, had placed our Jesus figure right in front of the Cenacle’s table set with the cross, paten, chalice and candles. I wondered, so I asked her, “Why did you put Jesus there?” After all, my thoughts were along the lines of, “I didn’t show her this,” and “Is this a fire hazard? After all, these are wooden peg people.” Hardly heavenly thoughts.
Her answer not only answered this question; it explains why this work, and the invitation to it, should be compelling. Why indeed is Jesus standing in front of the table looking at the bread and wine and cross?
“Because they are His.”
Yes, my wise friend and little friend. The cross, the bread, and the wine DO belong to Jesus: His to give, and ours to take, cling to, and need. Jesus IS at the table, and is about to be on the Cross. Thank you for reminding me to whom these precious things belong. I’m so glad I had the chance to smile with you on Lent 5 and say, “Of course they are!”