Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist. This so-called last supper Jesus had with his friends, I think, seems to have been an ordinary meal rather than a Seder. In an ordinary meal, the host, usually the head of the house, started the meal with a cup over which was said a blessing, then bread was, blessed, broken and shared which began the actual meal. When the meal was over, the host offered another cup, called the Cup of Blessing which ended the meal. Here’s what Luke says that makes me think this:
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:14-20
There is also no mention of the bitter herbs and other items that made up a Seder. Why do I think this matters?
I think there is another meaning to the Supper besides the institution of a ritual meal in the context of worship. I propose that Jesus is telling his friends, “Any time you eat a meal,” i.e. break bread and drink wine--the usual table drink--”remember this time we ate together. Remember me and all I said and did and be glad.”
If I’m right, it could give a whole new spin to “saying grace,” or “saying the blessing” at our meals. We might move away from the pro forma recitation of some mumbled words and actually thank God for his love as shown in its completeness in Jesus. Something on which to reflect as we continue our trek through the Holy Week observances and emerge different on the other side.
PS. Wonder what blessing Jesus said. A common Jewish blessing was something like this: Blessed are you, Lord God of Creation. Through your goodness, we have this [bread, wine] to offering, which earth has given and human hands have made. Neat huh?