Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maundy Thursday--A New Commandment

Maundy Thursday Service: April 17, 7pm at Bethany

"[Jesus said], I give you a new commandment that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."--John 11:34

If there's any service that seems to get overshadowed during Holy Week, in my mind, it's Maundy Thursday.  It doesn't have the festivity of Palm Sunday, the solemnity of Good Friday, or the joy of Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday.  But here are 3 reasons why it's important.

1. Love one another.  Have you ever heard it said that all religions are basically the same and boil down to being nice to each other?  On Maundy Thursday, we get to hear how Christianity is actually a bit different.  "Maundy" comes from the Latin word for "command," and it refers to Jesus's command to love one another as he has loved us.  During Holy Week, we find out what, "as he loved us," means.  Turns out, it's a lot more than being nice to people.  Jesus died for us.  As Jesus says (Jn 15:13), "No one has greater love than this, to lay one's life down for one's friends."  When we gather for Maundy Thursday, we get to hear about that love and share it with one another.

2. The Lord's Supper.  Maundy Thursday is recognized as the night when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper.  The Lord's Supper is an amazing gift.  Every time we gather, we not only remember Jesus's death and resurrection, but we eat his flesh and blood, allowing us in a mystical way to participate in his death and resurrection along with Christians of all generations and places.  On Maundy Thursday, we get to hear Christ's words: "This is my body, which is for you."  Every time I hear those words at communion, "This is the body of Christ, given for you," I am reminded that even though I seem small and insignificant, Christ thought I was worth dying for, and he thought the same about all of you, as well.

3. The Washing of the Feet. This is a long tradition in the Church--and for good reason!  Jesus said, "So, if I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet (Jn 13:14)," and, "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (Jn 13:17)."  Washing each other's feet is something that immediately sounds icky--and if you're like me, ticklish!  There are a few reasons why I think this is one of the most special celebrations that the Church does, though.  For one, it's a way to love one another--as Jesus told us.  When I allow someone to wash my feet--or when I wash someone else's feet, it shows a lot of closeness and trust with my fellow brothers and sisters in my local church.  I don't let just anyone touch your feet.  Second, it reminds us of our baptism.  Jesus tells Peter specifically that those who are bathed don't need to be washed other than the feet (Jn 13:10).  It's pretty clear he's talking about a little more than a warm shower in the morning.  When we wash each other's feet we remember that we are all baptized into one Church--and into one Christ who loved us enough even to wash our feet as a servant.

These are the 3 biggest reasons I am excited for Maundy Thursday.  What are some of your own?  I hope you'll join us!

May the Peace of Christ be with you always,
Vicar James

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