Good evening. Today we celebrate Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday is sometimes called Holy Thursday, and sometimes Covenant Thursday. It has been celebrated over the years in a number of ways. It has been celebrated with a feast, since Jesus and His disciples ate together then. It has been celebrated by giving money gifts to the poor. It has been celebrated with footwashing, since Jesus modeled this servant attitude by washing His disciples’ feet on that evening. But most universally, the church has celebrated Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion on this night since this day is the anniversary of the first Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper (or Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion) is one of the three oldest rituals of the church (along with Baptism and Footwashing).
Some people celebrate holy communion because they believe that they are given a special blessing from God every time they do it. I remember a woman talking to my mom many many years ago. My mom’s friend asked my mom how often is Eucharist done at her church. My mom said that it is done once a month. Her friend, <clicked her tongue> and said “How sad. At our church we do it every Sunday.” Now there is nothing wrong with doing it every Sunday. Maybe it is even a good idea. However, I suspect that my mom’s friend believed that she was getting blessed by God every week, while my mom was getting blessed only once a month.
In our church, we understand Holy Communion as an important symbol. And this symbol speaks to us in several ways.
First. It is meant to be a Symbol of Remembrance.
Paul states in I Cor. 11: 26,
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. There are three times here. As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup means NOW. You proclaim the Lord’s death… PAST. … until He comes…. FUTURE. This ritual links together us with our faith in what Jesus did in the past through His death… with what He promised to do in the future.
But it goes even further than that. This is because the Lord’s Supper was part of the Passover Feast… a Jewish holy event that celebrates God freeing the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.
In the Lord’s supper we are joined with the Israelites burdened under the load of slavery. We join with them as they are freed by God to follow Him to the Promised Land.
In the Lord’s supper we are also joined with the disciples who sat at the table as Jesus said, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
It is wise at this time to stop to meditate on the mystery and seriousness of our own spiritual history in Christ… as we join with Christians in all parts of the world for close to 2000 years who look forward to the return of Christ and the hope that He brings through His death on the cross for us.
<Pray that we do not forgot all that God has done for us and promised to do.>
Second. It is a Symbol of Christ’s Presence
Jesus used the bread and the wine as symbols of His presence. He reinterpreted the Passover bread as His body. He reinterpreted the Passover wine as His blood. Some have chosen to see this as literal… as if the bread is the literal flesh of Jesus and the wine is the literal blood of Jesus. In our church we accept the wisdom of the early church fathers who saw this as a metaphor. The bread and the wine symbolize the presence of Jesus with us. And when we eat the bread and drink the wine, we show that we not only recognize that Christ is with us, but that we partake of His presence. We see this continue after His resurrection in joining the disciples on the Road to Emmaus to join Him in food and drink, as well as when He joined His disicples. We are declaring are allegiance to Christ and fellowship with Him.
While some people call this ritual the Eucharist, meaning Thanksgiving, I like the term Communion… which means joining together. We join together as a people of God. But in this ritual we also symbolically join with Christ.
<Pray in our response to God’s Presence>
Third. It is a Symbol of Self-reflection
As the Apostle Paul said,
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”
This is a warning to us, but not a warning without hope. For in the same passage, we learn that this judgment is for our benefit. It says,
“When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”
Let us joyously accept the life Christ gave to us through His death, and joyously give our life for Him who gave us that abundant life.
<Pray for us to open our heart’s to the message of Christ… and that we repent of anything that is not pleasing to God.>
Fourth. It is a Symbol of Provision
The Lord’s supper reminds us that God provides for those that earnestly seek God. Those who seek provision outside of God are lost. As Solomon said,
“Stolen waters are sweet, and food eaten in secret is tasty.”
But he does not know that the souls of the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell. (Prov. 9:17-18) GW
Isaiah contrasts this with the food and drink God supplies,
He who walks righteously, and speaks blamelessly; He who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing to take a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from looking at evil-
He will dwell on high. His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks. His bread will be supplied. His waters will be sure. (Isaiah 33:15-16) HNV
Let us use this time to seek to live righteously, blamelessly. Let us trust God to meet our needs.
In Holy Communion, we are reminded symbolically of what Jesus told us before… that He is the one who truly provides and truly satisfies… As he said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger; He who believes in me shall never thirst.”
<Pray for our daily needs.>
<Song of Meditation>
Here we celebrate God’s presence among us, united in Christ’s spirit, broken and whole all at once.
The Lord’s supper is a time is a time of Remembrance
A time of Self-reflection,
And yes… a time of Rejoicing… as we recall that God alone can satisfy our inmost needs.
The prophet Isaiah recorded,
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters;
And you who have no money, Come buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk, Without money and without price.
”Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance,
Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you…
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger; He who believes in me shall never thirst.”
<Prayer for Bread and Cup>
“On the night of His arrest Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said, “This is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.:”
<Partake of Bread>
“This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
<Partake of the Cup>
<Closing Song and Prayer>