Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The mystery of this sacrament

Reflections for Maundy Thursday, April 13 2006 See: Exod 12:1-4, (5-10) 11-14; Psalm 116, 1 Cor 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31-35

Things come together on this day.
in the liturgy for this evening
we perform ritual washing as a reminder to be a servant,
and we celebrate with care the Holy Eucharist
remembering that this was the night when Jesus gave it to his disciples.
We then reserve some of the sacrament as a sign of the presence of Christ
and remove the ornaments from the church.
This is a symbolical reenactment of Jesus being taken out into the garden of Gethsemane, where he is ultimately arrested, stripped and beaten.
Things come together in the Eucharist.

The Command
We don't often think of it like this but the Eucharist (The Lord's Supper, the Mass...or however you call it) is a command
This is where the word Maundy comes from...the Latin "mandatum" meaning a command.... we still use words like mandate and mandatory which have the same root}
Jesus tells us to break bread and drink wine, and remember him. We are to do this when we get together
And so Christians have done this for 2000 years.
Our experience is that as we fulfill Jesus' s command
so we experience Jesus amongst us.
The early Christians coined this phrase:
The disciples knew Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
As we fulfill the command we experience Jesus.

Tonight, we also read of another command
"Love one another as I have loved you."
And as Jesus says this he washes his disciple's feet.
When Peter protests he is told that this is the way we experience the fulness of life.
and Peter (over the top as ever) says: then wash me completely.
Jesus's command is that we should do what he has done
that we should serve others.

We are meant to make the connection between the two commands.
Eucharist is not just about ritual observance
it is about how we live our life.
Worship services are not what we are on about
they are rather an expression
of how we are called to live our life.
They are not the end in itself.

Our obedience to Chris't command to share the Eucharist
also commits us to obedience to service.

As Jesus goes out into the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane
we are reminded that his call to follow him
will not be without its uncertainty and danger.
But in the end
we who know the truth of Christ
understand this invitation
to be a command that we embrace.
Each time we share the eucharist we are always
called to remember that we also called to serve
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’"

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