This Maundy Thursday reflection comes to you during a very strange and difficult time for each of us as we seek to stay connected and to walk in faith to the cross and beyond. My heart is with each of you this night.
Each year as we walk the rhythm of this christian journey and particularly this Holy Week, I like to take each step as an opportunity to refresh my memory.
What is this all about? Why do we observe these rituals and traditions?
Maundy – comes from the Latin – mandatum…..which means command or mandate.
This evening we have 3 rituals that draw our attention and focus to remembrance and command.
First…..we remember Jesus’ last meal with his closest friends (his church family if you will). It calls to mind our holy connection to our Jewish brothers and sisters as Jesus remembered with his friends the saving acts of God through history.
So we give thanks this Maundy Thursday that Jesus gave this commandment to his friends…. “do this in remembrance of me.” It is a communion with all who have come before us and all who are to follow in the way to come.
With this invitation (command) to gather at the altar for bread and wine in remembrance of Christ’s body and blood we are always given the opportunity to bring our hope and our heartbreak, our joys and our fears….all that we are and all that we fail to be—–to be strengthened and fed for the journey.
Second, we recall that at the last supper Jesus washed the feet of his companions. We are reminded that Peter protested….”It is not right that their feet should be washed by their spiritual leader, their deliverer, their savior. This was the job for servants. We recognize the arrogance the art of denial in Peter’s words that we might have to admit we fall prey too as well. Last year I received an amazing email from my sweet friend Abbott Bailey, an alum of my first youth group as a Pastor, who now serves as a Canon in the Diocese of California. She shared the power of her Maundy Thursday morning where she and 10 of her parishioners went out to the streets and washed the feet of their neighborhood homeless and gifted them new socks and gift certificates for new shoes……can we imagine doing such a thing?
Jesus’ response to Peter and his life example to us…..there is no shame in service. Service is the simplest act of love one can share……This is my commandment to all who have ears to hear……Love one another as I have loved you.
And finally, Our liturgy moves to the stripping of the altar in preparation for the horrific act which comes tomorrow. Like his friends we are given the chance to watch and wait and pray as Jesus prepares himself for this selfless act of love.
We, each of us, knows in our own moments of life when we wish to pray….what Jesus prayed, “Father, if it be thy will…let this cup pass me by, but thy will, not mine, be done.
How often have we when faced with far less perilous circumstances…times when we have been called to give of ourselves, admit our secrets, step out from behind our walls, to risk …our prestige…our time….our energy….our very selves without counting the cost….How often have we let those words, “Let this cup pass my by” be our scapegoat, our excuse our permission to sit back in quiet resignation.
We come to this Maundy Thursday to remember that we are bound (knit ) together in one communion of saints led on our way by Jesus’ great command…to love and to serve.
We watch this night with Jesus through his moments of agony and despair hoping only to claim some small portion of courage and love that makes service and self sacrifice possible for each of us.