Maundy Thursday 2022 Sermon
This is a full night. Full of darkness and intimacy. Full of symbolism and tangible promises. Full of love and full of betrayal. Full traditions, many different sides, many devotional avenues to explore. Like a cut gem, you can turn over in your hand to see the different facets of our faith together.
We hear stories of the Passover Meal of the Jewish people, a day of remembrance.
Remembering how God brought them out of the land of Egypt, saved them from their oppressors. Remembering by sharing a meal and telling the story.
We hear of the institution of the Lord’s supper, and how Paul received the meal and hands the tradition and the ritual and the sacrament on to us. Remembering our Lord’s sacrifice by sharing a meal and telling the story.
We hear a first-hand account of Jesus’ time with his disciples – his kneeling in front of them, wiping off their feet. Teaching them with his hands what his life and his death would mean for them. Not only remembering by sharing a meal – but sharing a promise that he would be with them, truly present, every time they share that meal
We hear the story of Holy Week and We participate in the journey to the cross. Because this story has meaning for us. This story becomes our story year after year. We are the disciples – with all their faults and flaws. Jesus is present with us, where even this small number of us are gathered. There are so many tangible ways to see and smell and touch and taste Holy Week – we are not passive spectators, but active participants in the story, as Jesus’ body and blood is offered for us. As we sing our prayers and praise, as we received absolution in a very hands-on way – with the cross traced on our foreheads in a reminder that we have also died with Christ in our baptism and have been raised to new life – and we receive the absolution we have waited for since Ash Wednesday.
We get our feet washed, if we so choose. And it feels oddly intimate, for someone to do this – but also because we did have this long stretch of time in our world where we actively avoided touching other people. It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve done this. But it’s also like riding a bike, like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes that you haven’t worn all winter.
We take the bread and wine into our hands – and then we take apart the very table it was consecrated on. The stripping of the altar – symbolizing Christ being stripped of everything, even his very life, for us. Leaving the church, naked, and a bit sad and empty looking, as we recall Jesus’ disciples abandoning him as he was betrayed and arrested. Lovingly taking away all signs of a feast or of celebration or of participation before we walk out the door.
All these tangible concrete signs of forgiveness, love, and sacrifice…. All these signs and sacraments help us Re-member. And serve to re- member the body of Christ. To put us back together. To unite us. To bring together what was lost, forgotten, or cast aside, and place it back in its proper place. These tangible things Jesus gave to us as ways to remember him, and re-member ourselves. Who we are and whose we are. To pay attention to those who need our care, to share a meal, to pay attention to Christ’s presence in those things, serve to unite the church, to help us remember our common purpose – even in dark times, even when we see the cross looming, when we experience suffering and pain, let us show love.