Welcome to Maundy Thursday.
The Thursday of Holy Week (Maundy comes from the Latin command to send) is traditionally reserved for remembering Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples. Jesus celebrated the Passover with the disciples, and then put a twist on the Hebrew celebration.
Passover had a set routine. Certain foods were eaten to remember the story of Israel escaping slavery to Egypt. Questions were asked – Why is tonight unlike all other nights? – as Jewish families retold the events of the Exodus. Jesus growing up would have done this every year.
At the Last Supper, though, he added to the story in that at the end of the meal he took bread and wine and connected these elements to his sacrifice. The Gospel of John, in my opinion, builds on this by putting the foot washing story where the Last Supper should be and John summarizes the narrative by saying:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another – John 13:34-35.
With Jesus as the example, we are to love each other as he loves us and loves his Father above.
If we wanted to take this a little further we could paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13. What is love? Well, it is not arrogant, boastful or rude. It does not insist in its own way. Love is forgiving. It is eternal and true. It is the greatest virtue and it governs all of the others. It is the one word that describes Jesus best.
As we move through Holy Week together it is encouraging to me to see how the church continues to build on this new command.
Yesterday I received a text from a family that is renting an apartment in the Houston Medical Center while a member of the family receives medical care. First Methodist maintains the apartment and rents it out at a drastically reduced cost as one of our missions. The family texted me yesterday to simply say – thank you.
Today I will go visit an elderly couple in our church. They have loved Jesus and First Methodist for a long time, and between our noon and evening service today I will stop by to visit and pray together.
Tonight, our church will gather to worship and celebrate Holy Communion. It will be a time to see one another and remind ourselves who and whose we are.
Why do we do these things as Christians? Because Jesus gave us a command…
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another – John 13:34-35.
I pray all of us are making Jesus’ words part of our Holy Week.