The first Last Supper

You’ve probably heard of the Lord’s Last Supper. But at Christchurch’s Anglican cathedral on Maundy Thursday they celebrate the First Lord’s Supper. Those with a Monty Python sense of humour will immediately recall the skit “Michelangelo and the Pope” in which Michelangelo decides to call his painting “The Last But One Supper"! (Michelangelo: Well there must have been one, if there was a last supper there must have been a one before that, so this, is the "Penultimate Supper"!)

What is particularly worthy of reflection is that Antipodeans have continued to use the word “supper” at all. Supper in England is “A light evening meal when dinner is taken at midday. Or - A light meal eaten before going to bed.” That is not the case in New Zealand usage at all. In New Zealand, supper is a drink (hot chocolate maybe) and, at most, something like a biscuit. In inculturating the liturgy into our New Zealand context it is surprising that our prayer book revisers appear to have made no concession to our understanding of supper. “after supper he took the cup” (NZPB page 422). It doesn’t even mention it was a cup of wine. Unchurched kiwis could be forgiven if their image of Jesus’ cup taken after supper is Milo! Every Great Thanksgiving Prayer in the NZ Prayer Book refers to the supper (pp 437, 469, 487, 513, 733). Even though the revisers attempted to create a different version for Jesus’ last meal story in each Great Thanksgiving provided, not a single one used what would make more sense in our context - “meal”.

I guess new people here at church are not surprised when they see people having a little drink and eating a biscuit-like disc.

[An internet search of “first last supper” produces over a thousand websites seriously writing about this without so much as a titter at how odd this looks].

You are visitor number since the launch of this site on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2006