Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19  Exodus 12:1-42  1 Corinthians 11:23-26   John 13:1-17, 31b-35

During Holy Week, we transition from participating in the crowd that both praises and then condemns Christ on Palm Sunday to an intimate association with Christ on Maundy Thursday. The readings of Maundy Thursday make the association of Passover with the institution of the practice of the Eucharist and foot-washing. We become Christians as we learn that this is what it means to follow him. To follow Jesus is to remember him every time we break bread and share wine. To follow Jesus is to serve others. The foot-washing ceremony brings us into an intimate association with each other. Jesus teaches us by modeling. As he washed his disciples’ feet, we are to do likewise.  We are to care; we are to serve.  These readings give us the sacraments and ritual practice whereby we become the body of Christ, enacting Christ in the world. Who we are in our association to Christ has changed from us being part of the peer pressure crowd to being Christ in the world. We now are to encounter everyone else as we have encountered the Christ, as servants. We are to be Christ in the world, to become his body and blood. 

Yet after such an intimate exchange, the service of Maundy Thursday is often marked by the stripping of the altar and even putting away of any reserved sacrament. Annually we mark this memory of Jesus being sentenced to death. We move from intimacy to remembering his beatings in prison and his awaiting death. He is gone. We are alone remembering his pain. We cannot reach him, we cannot find him.

For a while I could not remember some word
            I was in need of,
and I was bereaved and said: where are you,
            beloved friend?

(from “After I Fall down the Stairs at the Golden Temple”  ~Mary Oliver)

— The Rev. Sarah Colvin

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