On our trip to Great Brittian, France and Italy I visited and spent time in several cathedrals and famous churches.  St. Paul and Westminster Abbey in London; Bath Abby in Bath; Notre Dame, Sacre Coure, and St. Chappelle in Paris; and the Doumo and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. I will continue my daily blog on my reflections from my time spent in these churches.

We visited Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.  Painted on the wall in the Dominican Monk monastery next to the church is the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci,”The Last Supper.” Here is a photo I took of it.


Besides the fact that it was painted by Da Vinci, what makes this painting so famous?  Why was it so unique when it was painted?  Da Vinci was a renaissance artist, and the renaissance was focused on the mind, beauty, and accomplishments of mankind.  Here is a picture of Jesus in the painting.

In almost all the paintings and Icons of Jesus before this painting it was Jesus’ deity that was stressed.  He was painted with a halo around his head, on a cross, "glowing" in some way, or painted larger than other people around him.  In The Last Supper, Jesus is painted simply as a man.  He has no halo around his head, no other sign of deity and is the same size as the other disciples in the photo.  Jesus is painted emphasizing his incarnation, completely human, in context, in community, present at the supper table.

Another thing that made this painting unique is the food on the table.  Remember, the last supper took place in Jerusalem.  When you study the food you will see some of the traditional foods used in the Passover meal, however most of the food on the table is that which would be served at a typical Dominican Monk’s dinner.  Da Vinci painted this painting in a Dominican monastery, and he wanted to reflect the meal in its context painted.  Like we do today in our context when we celebrate the Lords Supper in remberance of the Jesus’ acts in salvation.   

Da Vinci is stating in his painting that Jesus desire was not to imitate or replicate the meal when we remember it as happening somewhere in the past, but to incarnate it into our current meal.  At ODC we are centered around simple churches, house church type models.  I remember back when one of our new house churches just launched that was made up of recovering addicts.  I received a call one night from a member as they were meeting and they asked, “Gary, we do not have any grape juice in the house, is it ok to use apple juice, or will it ruin it for Jesus?”  I told them apple juice is fine, Jesus is just delighted you are inviting him to your table.  I got another call one night from a house church meeting in a restaurant asking me, “Gary, we forgot to bring bread from home, is it ok to use the restaurant’s dinner rolls?”  I said, Yes, that will be fine.”  When I was in Darfur, Sudan, I celebrated The Lord’s Supper every night.  However, this were no grapes within 100 miles of where we were.  So I celebrated The Lord’s Supper using some type of Sudanese moonshine/wine made of local flowers.  Jesus’ promise of Whenever you do this in remembrance of me I will be present was not to the elements, but to you and I.  It does not matter whether you use Matza or Wonder Bread.  Nor does it matter if you serve it in a gold chalice or a red solo cup.  At our ODC gatherings, I always ask the family who will be assisting me in serving The Lord’s Supper to bring a cup and plate from their home for us to use.  One Gathering, a young girl of the family came up to me and handed me a “My Little Pony” cup and plate she had picked out to use for the Lord’s Supper and asked if this was ok?,  I said perfect!  And I consecrated the bread and wine on them and she proudly stood and served the congregation the Blood of Christ from her My Little Pony cup.  Everyday at home when she uses that plate and cup she will be reminded of the incarnation of Christ in her everyday life.

Another thing that made this painting famous and unique are the three windows in the back of the painting showing outdoor scenes.  Again, the Lord’s Supper to place in an upper room in Jerusalem and the wall would have been solid behind Jesus.  However, Da Vinci added and painted scenes of landscape through these three windows.  When you examine the landscapes painted, they are not of Jerusalem, but landscapes of Italian countryside.  Again, by doing this Da Vinci is moving the setting for the Lord’s Supper from the past to the present context.  He before his time, was missionaly stating in his painting, the Lord’s Supper and the incarnation of Jesus is not about Jerusalem anymore or any church building or location, but Jesus is present and glorified where ever and whenever it is celebrated to his remembrance.

My ODC family, I pray today you will remove any lingering religious teachings, traditions, or customs that have enforced in you the belief that Jesus is only present in a certain location, building, sanctuary or restricted to certain altars, vessels, or elements.  I pray, like Leonardo Da Vinci, you will see and experience the incarnation of Jesus in your context and in your community and in doing so, bring the remembrance Jesus in your life and the life of those you meet today.  Please pray the same for me.  God bless you my friends!!!

Gary Liederbach

One Direction Community- Lead Follower

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