Good morning all! Just a few days left until Easter…hooray!
Today’s scripture: John 13:31-35
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him,God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Today is what the church world calls “Maundy Thursday.” ummm…what? Most people understand why we call Ash Wednesday what it is. Many people have heard of Good Friday and why we call it Good (we can address that tomorrow). We have talked about why Lent is called Lent. But Maundy??? And it is not Monday Thursday. It is Maundy Thursday. No one says that word anymore. I don’t just pull it out for parties although that might be cool.
The word “maundy” comes from the latin word “mandatum.” And mandatum means “mandate” or “command.” So when we start talking about this Thursday we are actually looking at the mandate or command that Jesus gave us that night. This is the night when Jesus tells us exactly what is expected after he dies. This is the night that the disciples and Jesus break bread together for the last time (some of the gospels say in an upper room). This is the night that Jesus washes the disciples feet and shows them what it actually means to love one another and to serve one another. This is the night that changes everything because Jesus turns everything around by saying, “Love one another.”
There is a daily devotional that I also read each day called “Still speaking devotional” from the UCC. In today’s devotional Pastor Heath says, “It’s not my job to rename Christian holy days. But if it were, I might change the name of Maundy Thursday. I might change it from this word that none of us really know anymore to something we would all understand. Something like “Love One Another Thursday” or “The Last Thing Christ Really Wanted Us to Know Thursday.'” I like that. It is so simple and yet so incredibly difficult to do sometimes. This is a difficult command to just love one another. We have been trying for centuries.
I didn’t really know about Maundy Thursday until I went to seminary. It wasn’t part of my religious knowledge until church nerdiness hit me. But now, in what we call the Holy Triduum (or these holy days), it has become one of the most meaningful days. It is a moment in time in which friends gather, have intimate moments, hear to love one another and relish the bittersweet of what is to come. It is before the violence of Good Friday and before the grief and joy of Easter. It is full of potential, teaching, and intimacy at the table. Jesus gives his command and it is one of the most important things we can do in the world.
So…today…you have an obligation to love. How will you love on your people and on people in general? How will you keep this very important commandment? How will you celebrate the Maundy in your Thursday?