Maundy Thursday Homily

John 13:1-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:31-35

4/9/2020

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

1

Prayer.

 

The Sacrament of Holy Communion is a big deal.

We may not have understood how important it is

Until, first, we fasted from it for the season of Lent, and

Now, abstinence from the Sacrament is nearly forced upon us

By this detestable pandemic.

 

Though fasting is a spiritual discipline I agreed to at my ordination,

It is a discipline which I don’t like and have avoided at all costs.

Being new to the Rush parish this year and

Learning that fasting from the Eucharist during Lent

Was a common tradition,

I didn’t like it, but,

I thought to myself,

“Get over yourself, Todd.

This is a season to learn, grow, listen to what God has to teach you.”

 

Much of the value of the fast

is not in what you do without,

rather, what you do in its place.

Without celebrating Holy Communion each week,

I spent my Lenten fast

Reading, praying, recalling, discerning, writing and delivering

Six different reflections on the Sacrament,

Published on my blog site at Breaking Yokes dot Org.

(https://breakingyokes.org/2020/04/02/6-lenten-reflections-on-holy-communion-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic/)

 

This fast has been remarkably fruitful,

And I thank you for it.

This disciplined, sustained focus has allowed me to

Plumb some of the depths afforded to us by the Sacrament

From mechanics, to memories, to the mystery of God.

I’ve explored the Eucharist with focus and intensity

Unlike I have since attending seminary and

Being examined for ordination 35 years ago.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic certainly threw a monkey wrench into the discussion.

Plans were made, plans were canceled.

Plans were discerned, thought out, adapted, and made all over again.

 

In place of a meaningful worship service today,

Complete with tables, dinner, and friends surrounding the altar,

We find ourselves watching from home,

Cut off and isolated,

Alone, and for many,

Afraid.

 

How does the Sacrament of Eucharist speak

When we are in such a crisis?

How does it work?

How is it relevant?

 

 

The Gospel of John

Fills in the color of an otherwise classic black and white movie

Or a staged Da Vinci last supper.

More is at work at the Table than

The consumption of calories and

The commandment to “do this in remembrance of me”

Whenever disciples gather for worship.

 

The Upper Room is a vaulted room larger than the Table;

It includes the people around it.

This is why virtual communion is so problematic.

 

It is the bread.

It is the wine.

It is God present with the people,

Disciples of Jesus.

 

Gathered this evening for the Passover meal

are Jesus and his disciples,

all twelve of his disciples, including

One who would deny him and

One who would betray him to the authorities,

Leading to his death.

 

The Gospel of John reports

Jesus,

Knowing that he had come from God and was returning to God,

Got up from the Table,

Took off his outer robe and tied a towel around himself.

Jesus poured water into a basin and

Began to wash the disciples’ feet.

“Unless I wash you,” Jesus told Peter, “you have no share with me.” (13:8)

 

Knowing Peter would deny knowing him,

Jesus washed his feet,

To include Peter in his share.

 

Love overcomes denial.

 

Knowing Judas would betray him unto death,

Jesus washed his feet,

To include Judas in his share.

 

Love overcomes betrayal.

 

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ.

Love always wins.

 

The Eucharistic Table invites us to have a share with Jesus,

To be washed clean of the filth we walk in with, and

To be washed clean of the sins we are about to commit.

Taking a share with Jesus at the Table

Is the privilege of being the recipient of God’s grace,

God’s gift of love to the world,

Love for all,

Deserving and undeserving, alike.

 

Grace is free, but it isn’t cheap.

Jesus paid for it with his life.

 

Being on the receiving end of God’s love at Holy Communion

Is coupled with responsibility.

 

The love of Christ comes with a mandate to the people gathered.

Mandate, from the Latin, Mandatum novum,

In the old English, Mandatum is Maundy, as in Maundy Thursday.

 

“For I have set you an example,

That you also should do as I have done to you.” (13:15)

“Just as I have loved you, … love one another.” (13:34)

 

Serve.

Love.

This is our mandate.

 

To share in the love of Christ,

We are mandated to serve others;

Without judgment,

Without regard,

Without exception,

Without reservation,

With the extravagant grace of God and the love of Christ.

 

Their past, present, future? It doesn’t matter.

Serve.

 

To share in the love of Christ,

We are mandated to love others,

Without judgment,

Without regard,

Without exception,

Without reservation,

With the extravagant grace of God and the love of Christ.

 

Our past, present, future?

It doesn’t matter.

Love.

 

To share in the love of Christ,

We are to serve and love with the same intensity and abundance

As is God’s amazing, overwhelming love for us.

 

………

 

This Maundy Thursday,

At this Table,

Our mandate is to serve:

Wash feet, and serve the consecrated bread and cup,

To the people of God

That all might know

The love of God.

 

At this Table,

Our mandate is to love:

That all the world might know

That we are disciples of Jesus by our love,

For one-another, and

By our love for our God.

 

This, then, beloved, is Eucharist:

Bread.

Cup.

People.

Service.

Love.

Amen.

 

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