Today is Maundy Thursday. The day before consuming darkness comes. The evening in which the light of the world kneels before his filthy followers and wipes the dirt and grime from their sandaled feet. The task that was meant for servants, the task that the disciples should have done for him. Do this in remembrance of me. He says. Do as I have done for you.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Do what? Break a loaf of bread in half? Eat that bread, make it a symbol for Christ?
Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and offered it to them, saying “Drink from it, all of you.”
It is called Maundy Thursday because of these mandates given on this Thursday evening to a group of weathered disciples by their master. So we do what he commanded and we break bread and pour wine tonight. Or maybe we just take a piece of pre-broken wafer and dip it into a cup of already poured juice. We wash feet, feet untouched by the traveled road, feet covered with socks and carried by shoes. And then we leave the quiet of the evening and think we have somehow “done this in remembrance of Christ,” when in reality we haven’t even come close to following the mandate set for us in that room.
Because in that room, and then on the cross, Jesus showed us the full extent of His love. And we miss it, thinking it has to do with observing a set of solemn symbols. Do you understand what I have done for you? No, the truth is we don’t. In that upper room, with his beloved twelve gathered close, knowing that He was near the climax of His coming, Christ knelt to show us how to serve. He broke to show us how to break ourselves. He poured to show us how to be poured out. The focus of the night was not on the sacraments we were to implement into our church services. All that took place that night was to show us how to love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.
It was when Jesus knelt before his disciples, the ones that would fail him in his greatest need and even hand him over to his killers, and lovingly wiped their dust caked feet that He showed them the extent of his love. He knelt on knees weary from traveling, he took upon himself the most menial of tasks, he showed infinite tenderness to those entirely undeserving. He became the servant of those who should be serving him. And this is how he displayed his love.
And we think all he was asking of us was to take a sip of grape juice and swallow a dried out wafer once a month.
My bible is open to Ephesians 3 this morning. As I sip my coffee and sit in the silence of this Thursday morning, before the rest of the day’s tasks are approached, these are the words that I hear.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
It is only when we know the love of God that we can extend the love of God. It is when we are filled to the measure with all of God that we are able to spill out God to everyone we encounter. It is when we remember how He loved that we are then compelled to go and do likewise.
Do this in remembrance of me. Do this. Get on your knees to serve. Give your whole self, even to those who should be on their knees serving you. Let your body be broken for others – crushed by the weight and load and burdens of one another. Pour yourself out for the sake of those around you. Your time, your energy, your very heart. Give yourself for the cause of love. Do this in remembrance of me.