Maundy Thursday 2015: Do This

Eucharisteo (you-far-is-teo) means “the giving of thanks,” thanks-giving. It is from this word that we get the word Eucharist, and we remember its institution tonight. “Do this” is our command; do this in remembrance of me. Take my body and my blood into yourselves and into the world. Give thanks to God.

Eucharistic remembering, remembrance is not a simple “calling to mind;” remember when we went to the movies? Remember that snow storm? Eucharistic remembering comes from our ancestors and our Jewish Jesus. Eucharistic remembering is Passover remembering, bringing something from the past into the present, as if we were – and are – there. Passover remembering is about being present at a time when blood of a pure lamb on a doorpost was a signal to “pass over,” to skip that house, thus saving the male child within. The story is about the Exodus; even more, it is about God, God keeping God’s covenant to a people. YHWH delivers the people from slavery; God gives them land, hope, and a future. This tradition is “bound up” in a meal. (blog: liturgicaltheologian.com)

Eucharistic remembering comes from that tradition. It, too, is bound up in a meal; it is also about the blood of a pure lamb who saves God’s people. This remembering has a specific term: anamnesis, and it is what we do when we respond to Jesus’ words: “do this in remembrance of me.” We bring an event from the past into our present and in that action we become part of the event as often as we repeat it. (From Rite 1: “as oft as ye shall drink it.”) Anamnesis. Bound up in the making of Eucharist is the saving action of God that happened/happens through Jesus.

Think about the Eucharistic prayer: the words are about “this celebration of praise and thanksgiving; Eucharistic is a celebration. Of what? In our anamnesis/remembering, we are celebrating the triumph of Jesus, his conquering of sin, evil, and death. It is a celebration of what Jesus has done and of our hope for a future. God keeps God’s covenant.

We have a role in this covenant with God. We are called to respond in some way. Our response to God is worship. We are called to come to the altar of our Lord, we who are “not worthy to gather up the crumbs under Thy table,” and to worship. Worship is part of why we wash feet. We get down on the floor before our brothers and sisters and God and we do the work that a slave, a servant would do. We do what our Lord – our Savior – did for us. It is a form of bowing down before the Lord.

I know: we do not often like our feet; they are hard-working, not good-looking. It takes courage (guts) to bare them. Foot washing, however, is not about humiliation; it is about humility. Do you ever find it awkward to be waited on? We are taught to stand up and help, right? To take the dishes from the table, to stack them or wash them or dry them. “Here, I’ll help.”
“You will never wash my feet,” Peter says to Jesus. Peter understands. I encourage you this night to participate in the washing of feet. Come up with someone you know and wash each other’s feet. Let your feet be washed. What now do you think that Jesus was doing? Can we let Jesus wash our feet today? To touch us with his love, to teach us how to be humble? You may participate by praying while others come forward; that’s okay. Perhaps you can help us get down, or stand up, or empty the basin, put the chairs away. Serve one another in the way that speaks to you about Jesus, and about God.

Love one another as I have loved you.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Talk about the rest of the service: Eucharist, the stations, stay as long as they choose; honor the silence in the garden…………..
On Maundy Thursday we consecrate (bless or make holy) sufficient bread and wine to share Holy Communion on Good Friday. We do not consecrate bread or wine on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, on the day he dies on the cross. After we receive communion tonight, we take the reserved Sacraments to our “altar of repose” in the narthex of the church. This altar symbolizes the time that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death. Then we strip the altar bare just as Jesus was stripped of his clothes and tortured. We are stripped of the signs of our Savior on the night before his death.

We leave the church in silence this night. You may stay and pray in the church for as long as you choose. Pray with him in the garden; pray for understanding, for faith. Remember this night the mandatum, the commandment from our Lord.

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