Maundy Thursday Sermon
1. Maundy Thursday Sermon
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen
Let us pray,
O God, who by the cross and Passion of thy son Jesus Christ didst save and deliver mankind: grant that by steadfast faith in the merits of that Holy Sacrifice we may find help and salvation, and may triumph in the power of his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Maundy Thursday. The Thursday of Holy Week. From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. Maundy Thursday is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum,” new commandment” from John 13:34. John 13:34 tells us, “a new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” “The Maundy” was also known as the washing of the feet. Foot-washing was needed in Palestine. The streets were dusty and people wore sandals without socks or stockings. It was a mark of honor for a host to provide a servant to wash a guest’s feet and it was a breach of hospitality not to provide for it. John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and afterwards he says to them “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” The example Jesus sets is that of humble service to others and that not to follow that example is to exalt oneself above him and to live in pride. “No servant is greater than his master.” While the role of servant is certainly part of a deacon’s ministry it is not what I am going to talk about.
Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, the Holy Communion, by Jesus on the night when he was betrayed.
The collect for today says in part “Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the SACRAMENT of his Body and Blood.” The Sacrament of his body and blood. What exactly is a sacrament? If you would like to follow along with me now you can turn to the bottom of page 857 in the Book of Common Prayer. I’ll start with corporate worship. What is corporate worship?
Continue to the top of page 860. Remember John 13:34?
In Luke’s Gospel reading tonight we hear about the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. We commonly refer to this as “the Last Supper” as this was the last meal Jesus ate before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the basis for the fourfold action (taking, blessing, breaking, and sharing) in the Holy Eucharist. Those of you who haven’t put their prayer books away can, if you want, turn to page 355. Our whole service is called the Holy Eucharist. This is normally divided into two parts. The first part is the word of God. This part contains everything up to and including the Peace. The second part is the Holy Communion. This part goes from the offertory sentence through the end of the service. It is in this second part that we find the four actions. If you watch Father Scott during the Eucharistic Prayer you will see him TAKE the bread and elevate it, he will also do the same for the cup of wine. Then Father will BLESS the elements and ask that the Holy Spirit will sanctify them. Then after the Lord’s Prayer father will elevate the Priest’s Host and BREAK it. The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are then SHARED.
What was said earlier in the Catechism is that the inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith. That faith is belief in the Real Presence of Christ. The elements are not mere signs; Christ’s body and blood become really present and are really given. Belief in the Real Presence does not imply a claim to know how Christ is present in the elements but to believe that he is.
We need to remember what the benefits are that we receive in the Lord’s Supper; we receive the forgiveness of our sins, that’s certainly a biggie, the strengthening of our union with Christ, another biggie, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life and which Jesus tells us that we will share with him, at his table, in His kingdom. It doesn’t get any bigger or better then that.
Let us remember the words of Jesus
“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Jn 13:12-17). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jn 6:53-59). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.