Rev. Alan J. Wollenburg - Concordia Ev. Lutheran Church - Sikeston, MO
"Maundy Thursday" (from the Latin mandatum meaning "command") begins the three day service often known as the Sacred Triduum lasting until Easter. From the invocation of this service to the benediction on Easter Sunday, it is one solemn liturgy spanning three days that recounts the whole story — from betrayal & crucifixion to burial & empty tomb & the resurrection. Although, historically, there is no benediction spoken until Easter morning (because of the three-day service), we will include benedictions in both this evening's & Good Friday's worship services.
Maundy Thursday is remembered as the day on which Jesus washed the disciples' feet. More than that, there are other prominent themes. The name itself reminds us of the "new" mandate or command Jesus gave to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). The washing of the feet,, normally reserved for the lowest servant, is Jesus' way of demonstrating that kind of love.
They then ate the Passover, but Jesus gave new meaning to the old rituals. He called the bread His own body given for them for the forgiveness of their sins; He called the wine His own blood, shed for them for the forgiveness of sins. This is no mere symbolism. Jesus says the bread and wine are no longer merely bread and wine but are, by His Word, His own body and blood. Lutherans have tried to resist attempts to explain how this can be, preferring to take Jesus at His Word and believe that this is so. This gift is extraordinary nourishment for the church eternal, in which saints are fed with unending grace and limitless forgiveness. In Christ our daily and earthly strife is carefully balanced by divine intervention that we receive in the food of Word, wine, and bread. This is wonderfully true — that our incredibly shattered lives are healed by the real, genuine presence of Jesus. Because, on this night, our Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Altar, Maundy Thursday is treated as one of the Church's high festivals; hence the white paraments on the altar, pulpit, and lecturn.
This night also recalls the sadness of one of Jesus' own, Judas Iscariot, betraying Him. After singing a hymn, they left the Upper Room for the Mount of Olives & the Garden of Gethsemane where all things would be accomplished for us & our salvation. Be blessed in worship this evening as Pastor preaches on Exodus 12:1-14 on the theme "The Blood on Your Doorposts Came From . . ." + + +
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