Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lent Day 38: Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, the celebration of the Last Supper (Matthew 26:20–30Mark 14:17–26Luke 22:14–20) and Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:3–20). Judas left (John 13:30) before Jesus and the others went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and rest (John 18:1Mark 14:32).

I love communion, the celebration of the Lord's Supper. I've written before about the Long Table, the historical ritual that unites Christians.

When we lived in Cambridge UK, it was a joy to take Communion with a congregation that was over 1000 years old. After eating the wafer, we passed the old silver goblets through the rows. The picture in my mind was of Jesus and the disciples, sitting at the far end of a long table, passing the elements of the Supper to each other - and then sharing them with those who came after. Including me.

Christians from every tribe and nation have sat at that table:  the Church Fathers, believers in the Middle Ages and the Reformation, and throughout the travels, trials, and revivals of the Church. The table stretches forward into the future to those who will come after us. We believe that the broken Body of Christ and his spilled blood was and is an effective sacrifice on our behalf.

W and I talked yesterday to a former Bible professor. We observed that all religions are different: though there is room for only one God for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, each group views salvation and our part in the story differently. Most Jews and Muslims are devoted to working toward salvation. "If I do more good than bad, perhaps God will let me into his heaven - or at least, I'll be considered a good person."

In contrast, believers in Christ rely on God alone to make us whole; he alone can cover our sins and separation with his righteousness. Any other "paths"of human solutions - more morality, more sacrifices, and more efforts - fall short. Scripture says, "Only God's grace and redemption saves us." However, after accepting God's gift or reconciliation, we align our behaviors to please God, as those who have been saved from ourselves and our brokenness.

I'm relieved that we don't have to build a bridge between God and us. He's already done it. Sitting at the Long Table reminds me of his invitation to come, taste, and see that he is good.

Read more:
*Lord, you have been a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm. Isaiah 25:4 NIV

*Jesus said, "I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!" John 16:33 ESV

*What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, thank you for your presence, love, forgiveness, and peace. We so often try to live our lives in darkness but realize we cannot. Thank you, ever-present God, for bringing us from darkness to your light. Amen.

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