There were four staff members including our organist; another musician; choir members; acolytes; a sound and lighting person; a soloist; seven readers; those who prepared the communion table and helped serve communion; and those who changed out the colors on our outside cross. These all assisted and helped prepare for our Maundy Thursday worship.
We had some lighthearted conversation before our worship service. One person said someone told him that we had misspelled the word “Monday” in our promotion of the service.
It’s a reminder that these services are still not common among Baptists and we have to continue to educate. Maundy comes from an old French word “Mande” which means command. From this, we get the English word “mandate.” When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples the night they gathered in the Upper Room, he commanded them to do the same for one another.
I am filled with emotion as I remember all that took place on the night Jesus served the Passover Meal and washed the feet of his disciples. Remembering all of this with a community of believers in a communion experience is powerful. Serving communion on this night (Maundy Thursday) is a humbling one.
Last night, as I held the cup, I said to each one, “The blood of Christ, shed for you.” As I looked into the face of each one, I realized I loved each one. One member said, “I love you,” as he took bread and dipped it in the cup. I thought about different experiences I’d had with people who came forward. I traveled to Liberia with one family. I preached the funeral of one woman’s husband not long ago. The list is lengthy.
Then I looked up and saw a husband and wife coming forward. As usual, she was dressed beautifully, but she is entering a silent world. Her movements are slow. While her husband stays active and good humored, I am beginning to see the pain in his eyes as well. Just as Jesus knew there was a cross to bear, the man seems to know there is one they must bear. This disease is progressive.
It was good they were toward the end of the line because suddenly my heart was filled with pain. Tears are sometimes not very deep within me, and before I served a couple more people, one tear had rolled down my cheek and I had trouble saying, “The blood of Christ shed for you.”
I have no doubt God will sustain this family through whatever awaits them. In fact, what awaits me or you today tomorrow could be much more difficult. None of us can ever know. Our faith in God is not a faith for the good days only. This is a lesson we learn from Jesus as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Upper Room, Jesus taught his disciples to serve one another unselfishly. It is the kind of love that a husband and wife vow when they are married, “In sickness and in health.” It is with unselfish love that we will wash one another’s feet. It is a love that says, “This journey isn’t just about me. I will give what I have to you because I love you with all that I am and have.”
We worship Jesus because Jesus showed us especially through the holy events of this week that God is that kind of God. To the extent that we learn to be that to one another, we have learned to love like God. That’s what brought a tear to my eye during the Maundy Thursday service. I saw the love of Jesus in the faces of a husband and wife as they face an unknown future together.