Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday: Remembering One bread, One Body

There is still much to be done at St. Paul's: programs to be printed, bread to be baked, flowers to be arranged, sermons to be written. St. Paul's is already bustling to the brim with activity. Andre our sexton was busy all yesterday buffing floors. Tony rigged up a new light for me in the pulpit.

Janet gave a wonderful homily last night for children; later in the evening I led an instructed Eucharist (you can read my notes by clicking HERE). Every room yesterday seemed to contain a meeting or a group of some sort. 

Ready or not, here we go.

Today is "mandate" Thursday, the day we remember Jesus "mandated" us to remember him whenever we come together to share the bread and wine of our Holy Eucharist. The word "mandate" comes from "maundy" and so today is Maundy Thursday. Later this morning I will join clergy colleagues in Culpeper to renew my ordination vows with Bishop Shannon Johnston. The Great Three Days, the Easter Triduum, begins tonight. 

Traditionally the emphasis of Maundy Thursday is on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. He serves his servants at their feet. And so tonight at 7:30 pm we will wash feet; it is especially right that the clergy wash the feet of our people. I would invite you to join us, and to not be shy. Please come forward to have your feet washed.

But before we get there, let's not lose sight of the Last Supper, and the remembering of Jesus in this meal we share together when we gather as faithful people. It is a profoundly Jewish way of remembering whenever we share in this Communion meal. We begin with "The Lord be with you" and "And also with you." That is an ancient Jewish table blessing.

Then we remember the Creation by God of  all that exists, and how we have turned away from God. And then we remember how God came to be with us in the person of Jesus, and this Last Supper on the night before he died. Our remembering brings us to the same table with Jesus and his disciples. We remember, and so we are there also, we are participants in these events, in these Great Three days.

Our meal, this Holy Eucharist, is shared by all faithful people everywhere, and that knits us together in spite of ourselves. I am especially struck by Paul's description in this morning's Daily Office reading (1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32): 

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."

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