Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday

Today is my favorite holy day of the year--Maundy Thursday.

You probably know that 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin 'mandatum' which is translated 'commandment--also is root of English word 'mandate'.

This is the night Jesus gave the disciples "a new commandment" (in John's Gospel which has three chapters of 'table talk'!) "Love one another as I have loved you." That commandment would be enough reason to love Maundy Thursday, but for me it's more.

It is the night we celebrate Jesus' Passover meal (In Matthew, Mark and Luke) and Jesus' last meal with the disciples (in John).

The timing is different because John's Gospel has Jesus die on the day of Preparation for the Passover so 'the lamb of God' would die as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered.

Anyway, in all four, they are around a table eating. In John, Jesus washes his friends' feet. In the Synoptic gospels he blesses the bread for Passover and the cup of Elijah.

So, the Christian Eucharist is born. 'Eucharist' from the Greek 'eucharistia', which means 'thanksgiving'. Jesus takes the bread and 'gives thanks' and 'gives thanks' for the wine, sharing both. Which is what we do in the Communion service.

(Just to make it clear: Episcopalians believe in 'the Real Presence' of Jesus' Body and Blood in the bread and wine. We don't have--most of us--any belief in 'transubstantiation' or 'consubstantiation'. We draw our theology from no less a theologian than Queen Elizabeth the First who, queried by someone trying to make her into a Papist, "what do you believe about the bread and wine?" answered, "As Christ spake it and the priest brake it, I take it."

I love theology that rhymes!

At the end of the Maundy Thursday Liturgy, which begins around a table with an Agape Meal the altar is stripped for Good Friday. ('Agape' is the third Greek word we translate 'love'--after 'Eros' and 'Philios'...erotic and brotherly/sisterly love.) Agape is the word Jesus uses for his love and his Father's love and the love we are called to--selfless and self-giving. I wash the altar with consecrated wine and water and leave the bread and wine for communion from the reserved sacrament of Good Friday that I blessed tonight. Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the two days that bread and wine may not be blessed.

But the feast of Maundy Thursday is a precursor of the great feast of Easter.

Love around a table full of food is for me the best love of all.

Around our table this year will be both our children (Josh and Mimi) and their mates (Cathy and Tim) and our four granddaughters--Emma, Morgan and Tegan Bradley and Eleanor McCarthy--along with 4 of our oldest friends--John (West Virginia, knew him from WVU) Jack (Virginia) and Sherry (South Carolina) Ellis and their son Robbie, a few years older than Josh. What an amazing gathering for us!

Our children grew up with Robbie Ellis so we've know them all for nearly 40 years and John for 45 or more.

Such joy sitting at a table with such 'family'.

This will be the Easter Event I need after Bela's death.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.