This sermon was preached at the joint Maundy Thursday Service of Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Elias Christians Church, and Church of Jesus Christ Reconciler.
Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
We gather here tonight at the end of our Lenten journey, and to begin the celebration of the three days. We are at the center of our faith. Tonight we remember who we are as members of Christ’s body the Church. No ideology, no identity should trump what we find here in these liturgies and sacred texts. We come tonight and hear the call to love and serve, not as the world loves and serves but as Christ. We are called to live as God lived and lives, to enter into the life of the Holy Trinity, named for us as Father Son and Holy Spirit. On the night of the institution of the Lords Supper Christ invited his disciples to enter into this living loving relationship through two things; The bread and cup of the Eucharist and Christ’s washing of his disciples feet.
We come here on the day of the command, the command to love and to eat and drink. We watch as Jesus, the master the rabbi, God in human flesh, takes on the role and the task no one wanted, the task of a slave. What is the connection between bread and wine, and washing of feet? What is the connection between our liturgy of the Three Days and our daily lives? These questions should resonate in our very being as we move from Lent to Easter.
The connection is that they both embody the Gospel: they are the Gospel. If we do not see the Gospel in both service and ritual meal then we miss the Gospel. If we locate the Gospel only in the midst of the church gathered around ritual table we have no Gospel. If we locate the Gospel only in our actions in the world, in working for justice and against oppression for liberation, we have no gospel either. The reason for this is that the one leads to the other and then back again. If we receive Christ in Bread and Wine, we have God continually Giving God’s self to us. In communion we are suckled at the breasts of God nourished and cared for, but for a purpose. On this night of command, the command to love, God shows us that such motherly care and nurture in being found in communion is to strengthen us to serve each other and the world. In the Bread and the Cup we find the source to love beyond our abilities or strength.
This is the Gospel my sisters and brothers: what the world needs what will bring and has brought freedom justice and peace, is the Death Resurrection and ascension of Christ. It is the cross where we find the fulfillment of all human longing and find the strength to serve and resist all that stands against our true humanity. We gather together tonight to remember our calling and to what we all were ordained at our Baptism. We are to proclaim the Gospel in all we do and in all we are. We are called to serve each other and the world. As a reminder this evening we wash and allow our feet to be washed, we serve and are served. Tonight we remember and fulfill the vow of our baptism, our ordination into the priesthood of all who believe.
May we come from these Three days strengthened in our faith more sure of the gospel more at rest in the loving relationship that is God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.