Last November 5, I listened to NPR's Diane Rehm interview Peter and Paul, the surviving members of the popular sixties trio, Peter, Paul and Mary. The occasion for their appearance was to introduce the release of their book, Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years in Music and Life.
Peter, Paul and Mary were one of my favorite vocalists when I was a teenager. The lyrics of their songs were simple, the tunes catchy, and I often sang their music when I walked to school or hummed in the classroom. Their unique style opened the way for new forms of vocal expression leading to the Beatles.
Diane asked a lot of questions. I learned Paul's first name is Noel, his middle name, Paul. Mary died in 2009, but Peter and Paul continue to perform. Paul remarked that those who hear them sense Mary's spirit as they present concerts all over the country.
Peter and Paul spent time remembering Mary and their relationship through the years. Paul explained that when Mary visited a friend she never said good-bye, but "to be continued".
To be continued means something will go on. Mary and her friends continued in friendship even though they weren't in close proximity.
Jesus gathered his disciples in an upper room and shared a meal of bread and wine we now call the Last Supper. Jesus showed the disciples a piece of bread and said, "This is my body." Then Jesus gave the disciples a drink of wine from a cup he held. "This is my blood."
Jesus wanted the disciples to have tangible ways and a ritual to remember him and his ministry that would continue throughout time. The Last Supper or Holy Communion as we now call the meal is a way for Jesus to say, "I am not saying good-bye. My life will continue in resurrection and we will meet again."
Mary realized that even though she may not see a friend for a while, she was not saying good-bye at the last encounter, but "to be continued" until they were together again. "To be continued" carries an excitement and expectation of new conversations and encounters where "good-bye" has an element of finality.
Jesus wants us who believe in him and who partake of communion to remember he, too, did not say "good-bye", but "my life continues in your life until we meet again. Bread and wine, symbols of my body and blood, will empower you as you continue my ministry wherever you go and with whom you meet."
We did not say "good-bye" to Jesus at the cross, but "to be continued" when we receive communion and serve in the kingdom.
Are there friends to whom you say good-bye when you depart?
Are there friends to whom you could say "to be continued" as you leave?
How can you offer to continue Jesus' ministry?
Prayer: God, the cross did not mean "good-bye" for your son despite what seemed obvious as Jesus was placed in the tomb. Resurrection means "to be continued" as we receive the love of Jesus in our hearts and serve in the kingdom. Amen.