Maundy Thursday is a very special day and evening in our Christian Church & Calendar. Maundy Thursday is a very special day in a remarkable week that changed the world and set the tone of the Christian Church and Faith.
This Holy Week - These seven days have been the topic of a million of publications, countless debates and thousands of films. These seven days have inspired the greatest painters, the most skilled architects and the most gifted musician. To try and calculate the cultural and human impact of these seven days is impossible.
Palm Sunday is the first day of the seven. It began and begins with shouts of joy, palm branches and Hosanna’s. It began here in our church with a beautiful musical celebration of the joy, the hope and the sacred words embodied in our humble Savior riding into Jerusalem.
On Monday Jesus walked into the temple of Jerusalem, overturning the tables of money and greed. Preaching and focusing on prayer instead of purchase.
On Tuesday Jesus taught his parables, warning his listener about hostility and hatred; and predicting that the mighty Temple would tumble and fall.
On Wednesday the 4th day…. We know nothing. The Gospels are silent, - perhaps it was a day of rest for Jesus and his disciples.
And then on Thursday, today, in an upper room, Jesus gathered his friends and followers for a meal at a simple table. With a simple meal. And with a simple message. Simple and yet so profound that we still repeat it, believe it and gather because of this message.
Friday following all the heart wrenching betrayal, arrest, false trials, condemnation, and sentencing, Jesus carried his cross to Calvary.
Saturday was also a quiet day. Jesus lay dead in a tomb.
And then Sunday. A day filled with Sun and Splendor: the stone had been rolled away, and Jesus appeared to his disciples who were coming to the tomb in sorrow, walking to Emmaus in distress or hiding behind closed doors.
So we are here tonight. On this Thursday of the Holy week. Mid-week. At the center of this Holy Week and at the center of our Christian Faith.
Is there anything better than to gather around a good meal together with your best friends?
We are gathered here today for service and also at a table. A very special meal. A simple meal. Simple in the very best and true meaning of the word. A meal different from our ordinary human meals with family and friends, and yet carried by the same message of fellowship, forgiveness, belonging, blessing and strength.
It is Maundy Thursday. Or the Pure Thursday as we call it in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. Jeudi Saint in French, Juens Santo in Spanish and Grundonnerstag in German. A day named after is promise: a pure day, a divine day, a green day of hope.
Holy Communion as we celebrate it Sunday after Sunday – doesn’t seem much. It is perhaps the smallest meal served. It is not even a meal, a fine Danish hostess would think: just a small piece of bread and a sip of wine. It is a simple and fair and square meal. No overflowing saucer or cornucopias of gluttony. But the message and the substance of the meal is very powerful. This piece of bread and these drops of wine hands us new courage to live and courage to believe…
This meal is a meal of remembrance and hope. It resembles the meals we share after a Memorial Service, when families and friends gather in the hall for a meal and to share the memory of a loved one. Holy Communion is our weekly Memorial services in remembrance of Jesus Christ and his last supper. Carried by the same love as we remember a dear old friend….
At our Memorial services we recollect and share all the wonderful stories of our loved ones: about good times, precious days, good meals and great love. About time spend that colors our present days and words said that still sound in our minds and hearts. “ Do you remember that day… when uncle Tim raised his glass and gave a toast ?... Do you remember that marvelous meal aunt Betty served on that Christmas eve where everything else went wrong? …. Do you remember the smell of the meals, the sound of the laughter, the sense of belonging and bliss? Do you remember … ?”
When we gather for service and when we get up and kneel at the altar, shoulder by shoulder, side by side, we remember. We remember that First Maundy Thursday when Jesus sat at the tables with his friends and spoke to them… and through time and history to us. These words we remember and repeat again and again. And we are reminded of the pure message and the simple meaning of this meal: that we are made and called to love each other just as He did… we are made and called to share our meals and our lives…. We are made and called to live a life of service and grace.
This evening, this Thursday, this ritual reminds us how we should be and should live. That we are in fact made to live in fellowship and in service.We need to listen to these words. We need to be reminded. And in our time and age we need to be reminded just as much as the divided p eople of the time of Jesus needed to.
We are divided too. We are separated too.
We are disagreeing too. We are arguing too.
In these political debate days the divide seems so so deep. As if we have lost the common thought of common grounds and common good.
We blame the others. We fear the others.
We argue with the others. We even fight with the others.
While our politicians argue and debate, the fellowship and he citizenship slowly fade away as the glue that should hold our country and our community together. Them and us. If we truly listen to the words of Christ and if we do not just leave the beautiful words at the altar when we leave the church, - but bring the words into our daily being and lives, - then we truly live up to the mandate given to us and the grace shown us.
Tonight we remember. Tonight we meet at the table. At one long common table, clothes in the color purple of prayer and adorned by the color of yellow daffodils of hope. How blessed we are to sit at that table! How blessed we are to be invited and welcomed! Tonight we remember. And we remember the forgiveness and grace of Christ given back then on the pure Thursday and given tonight at our table. The words encourage and enlighten us when they
“Christ own body blessed and broken, cup overflowing, life outpoured, given as a living token of your word, redeemed, restored…..
We remember the words and believe in the power to redeem and restore.
Humans must eat to live. Humans must eat together to become and maintain community.
Tonight we remember that special Thursday. And we do so through words and rituals, though bread and wine, through receiving the bread and gently serving others, by not just sitting at the table waiting to be served, but sitting at the table ready to serve and help, ready to manifest the mandate of Jesus to love and serve one another. And guess who will come for dinner? Jesus will… in the wine, in the bread, in the conversations, in the laughter, in the fellowship and it our faith. AMEN