Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Christ Church, Frederica
The first Maundy Thursday service I ever attended many years ago was one my husband-to-be performed while he was still in seminary. I entered the service head muddled from a long day at work and sat down in a pew completely unaware of what was to happen.

A powerful service, but I think I was most affected by the last thing on the ritual -the stripping of the altar and chancel area. I watched as one by one the church was emptied of Bible, cross, candles, and vestments. I then sat staring into a blank wall. No Word of God to be my bread. No cross to life up my head. No candles to remind me of the Holy Spirit’s presence. No IHS on the vestments symbolizing the first three letters, iota-eta-sigma, of the Greek name of Jesus- something I’d seen almost weekly since a small child. Now, merely a building devoid of any reminders of its purpose except the altar.

And I, like probably other worshippers that evening, wondered what my life would be without Jesus. Empty, hollow, without meaning, on a lonely road trying to save myself. I’d figured out a few years before how catastrophic my own attempts at salvation were. I’d be back in Leviticus trying to remember all the rules, trying to get it all right. Failing.

I wanted to shout my thanks and praise to Jesus. Thank you for Gethsemane, thank you for Calvary, thank you for the empty tomb. Thank you, Jesus, for completing the work you were sent to do. Thank you for bearing your cross. Thank you for doing it for me. For the world.

Instead of shouting, though, I left quietly, remembering Him. But I knew on Easter morning, at first light, my praise would burst its bounds and I’d dance in adoration to the One who has saved me to the uttermost.

The one who bore all so that I could have life.

On this Maundy Thursday, remember with me the Last Supper, the washing of feet, and the singing of a hymn-the Great Hallel, Psalm 136, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

And give thanks for Jesus.

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