The following is a link to our reading for today:
John 13:1-17, 31-35
We Christians gather this week, Holy Week, and this day, Maundy Thursday, to do much the same thing. We are here to remember. We are here to tell our story. We are here to proclaim that God acted to save us yet again by his Son, Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection. We are here to tell the story to our children, and their children, and their children’s children.
So I ask the question in our community as well, “Why is this day different from all other days?”
It is no accident that this Last Supper, the first Eucharist, took place during the Passover festival. After all, Passover was celebrated to remember that God had saved in the past and to affirm the belief that God continues to save in the present. When the disciples gathered for that Last Supper with Jesus before his death, the Passover was in their minds. Like Passover, the Eucharist is a celebration of God’s salvation. It reminds us of God’s saving work through his Son, Jesus. The Eucharist reminds us how God has saved us from slavery to sin and death.
But the Eucharist is more than a remembrance of what God did in the past. It is also a reminder that God still saves and that God will continue to save. For generations people had seen bread and wine raised in a Sabbath blessing to a great and faithful God. But in Jesus’ hands the same bread and wine became the Body and Blood of a Lord whose death gives us life. We gather to remember, but even more importantly to give thanks for the blessing of a God who forgives us, restores us, and calls us to join in the creative act of “making all things new.”
Today Jesus is calling us to continue his great legacy, to keep it alive by finding new ways to serve, to nourish and to give comfort to people who are in pain. Renewed by the presence of his Body and Blood within us, we take seriously God's call to us to bring Good News, to help the hungry, the homeless, those who mourn, those who are sick, and prisoners and captives. We witness to the power of our God by redeeming pain, striving for peace, and working for reconciliation with justice. That is what makes this day different. And it makes us different, too. We are in the world and not of it. We are called to a different ethic, an ethic of love. And this day witnesses to the fact that no matter what the world’s response to our actions of love may be, nothing it can do can stop Jesus working in you and me for the furtherance of God’s work in this world.
As we celebrate the Eucharist this day, give thanks for our Jewish sisters and brothers who honor the origins of this banquet in the Passover feast. Give thanks that we are bound together in the fellowship of love and prayer in the Eucharist with those who follow the way of Christ around us and throughout the world. And finally, give thanks that Jesus up to his last moments gave of himself in love that we might live and serve him forever. Amen.