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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Thursday’

Mr. William Falk, of The Week magazine, has this telling editorial right in time for Maundy Thursday:

“Food is the new religion. I am hardly the first to make this observation, but I heartily endorse it: Secular sophisticates have jettisoned traditional beliefs about sin and sanctity, so they fulfill their instinctual need for purity and redemption through what they eat. I see the proof whenever I visit the  local Whole Foods to hunt and gather weekend victuals. There, you cannot help but smirk at the organic, locavorish righteousness of it all—even as you succumb to the spell. “

Mr. Falk then goes on to show how Whole Food is filling this need, among many competitors for this “new religion” and it’s various charmed eats.  He then concludes,

” … affluent shoppers who push their heaping carts around the store—many in workout tights that display their buns of steel—have such a confident, self-congratulatory air.Yes, they are paying double what groceries cost at Stop N’ Shop. But how much purer we all are, how oxidant-free! How much longer we’ll live than the wicked masses! We are The Chosen. Give us this day our artisanal, gluten-free bread and our goji berry juice, and may our carbon footprint be small. Amen.”

Is this righteous eating and drinking? No, sadly I think it is self-righteous eating and drinking. This is Pharisaic thinking without the excuse of religion…supposedly.    Our Lord said, take and eat, take and drink.  Now this night.  This is the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ poured out for us and for our salvation.  We come to His table as needy people, dying people, impure to purely  live on His Word, every Word proceeding from His mouth,  made present in bread and wine as He promised:  His Body and Blood. This is pure eats.  We are not the self-chosen.  We need to be chosen and directed away from the  world’s sin and death, and the old flesh clinging to sin.  The wages of sin is death and we work for such lousy wages and He worked this night, and still does through His Word.  God’s Law, which we can not keep, shows us this, that love of God and neighbor directs us away from the way of sin and death. Jesus worked Himself to death, as true man and as true God,  the blood, sweat and tears of God.

Mr. Falk perceptively points out that folks want to “…fulfill their instinctual need for purity and redemption…”.  Though the need for purity and redemption is more than instinct, it is  inscribed, the Law of God into our hearts to know Him and His will which is poured out these 3 days of the final redemption in Jesus Christ, the new and everlasting covenant. With every fiber of His being and the whole food of God dwelling in Him perfectly, for 33 years He came to this point so that your life and mine has a point:   His dying and rising. He is the Bread of Life as He promised.

We open our mouths, open our hearts to Him.  But it is not opening our mouths and by eating and drinking alone will make us pure and redeemed. It is faith which holds and clings to Jesus Christ.  This is for body and soul.  The Lord made us a unity of body and soul.  The Lord for our salvation demonstrates this till He comes again in power by His Presence in His Supper because bodies don’t believe and souls don’t eat (Pr. and Prof. Hermann Sasse).

The bread of this world is bought and sold.  We can not buy the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, He has bought us with His blood.  We can not buy eternal life in Christ, He gives it.  We can not buy this blessed Communion, we are baptized for it, for Him, in Him and through Him, the Passover Lamb.  The eastern Orthodox will refer to the priest as “serving the Liturgy”.  This is meet, right and salutary so to speak.  Jesus Christ is One Who serves and we are called by Him to do the same.  Serving His body and blood and serving our neighbors in His love, following His example.  When the Lord says, “This cup that poured out for you…”, the verb in Greek, translated as “poured” is actually present tense.  It  is hard to translate it into every day English:  This cup pours out for you…It does, beloved! Or this cup  pouring out for you.  For you!    As it poured out His veins upon the Cross, as His life, His circumcision on the 8th day, His  ministry, Supper, Baptism, creation, re-creation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension is preached and taught and pouring out for us all. The so-called  pure eats of the new religion of food is only for them who can afford it. Not here.

As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly bread and drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ’s blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness (Dr. C. F. W. Walther).

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Crown Him the Lord of Life
Who triumphed o’er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of Love.
Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye
At mysteries so bright!

Ascension Day is the coronation celebration of the Lord as He is proclaimed to be King of the universe. Jesus’ ascension to the Father is His entrance to the greater existence beyond the confines of time and space, being no longer bound by the limitations of His state of humiliation. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, which Luther correctly taught is everywhere, having again taken up the power and authority that were His since before time. Yet our Lord is present with us who remain bound by time and space. He is with us as true God and true man, exercising His rulership in the Church through the Means of Grace that He established, His Word and His Sacraments. We mortals in those Means of Grace can grasp the King of the universe and receive a foretaste of the feast to come.

The last Thursday we were gathered together as His Church in the Divine Service was Maundy, or Holy Thursday, during Holy Week.  Holy Thursday is “the night in which He was betrayed” and He took bread and the cup, gave thanks and gave us His Body and Blood in bread and wine.  “Maundy” is related to Latin word for “command”:  He commanded His Supper of His real Presence and commanded us to wash each other’s feet in loving service on that night. Ascension, 4o days after Pascha, or Easter, is always a Thursday.  He bodily and  spiritually ascended into heaven to be with us, heaven come to earth, in the Sacrament of Holy Communion which He instituted some 43 days ago, on the Thursday before Good Friday. The two Thursdays are intimately connected in Jesus Christ because the ascended Lord, bodily and spiritually, deigns to be with us in His Supper, proclaiming His death until He comes again.

Thursday is kind of a non important day in the secular world:  not like Saturday and Sunday the weekend or like Monday the first day of the work week, or like Wednesday, “hump day” or Friday, TGIF.  Yet, our Lord did something everyday of the week to hallow it, especially Thursday.  The world does not recognize any longer Maundy Thursday and Ascension Thursday.  Sadly, the Church does not give much heed to Ascension.  I have had many discussions with pastors, “Do you do anything on Ascension?”  “Nah, no one comes.”  As if numbers were the reason we have Liturgy and not the Word of God, Incarnate, preached and written.  Funny:  we don’t ‘have’ Ascension but we want the ascended Lord to have us! He does and we grab hold of Him in faith.

There is only one solution for our unworthiness: the worth of God. We have nothing in our hands to offer to God that He could. possibly want from us. Here is the mustard seed of faith that believes that God gives the fullness of His grace. Such faith does much more than move mountains and uproot trees. It moves the mass of our sins and uproots our wickedness, drowning them in the depths of the sea (Micah7:19). It has done good works before it is even aware that they are required (Matthew 25:37).

The servants of God must continually confess their unworthiness (Luke17:10). This would be an utter disaster if our standing in God’s sight were a matter of fulfilling our duty. It’s not! We are free to confess our unworthiness because the Lord meets our confession with acceptance and does not reject us for the sake of Christ’s precious blood offered for us. We may confess our weakness of faith, because we are invited to drink of the true fountain by Him. We know where our strength comes from. Not from ourselves. This is why the Church’s children ever confess our own unworthiness, for our worth is His. (From Pr. Murray’s A Year with the Church Fathers:  Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year.)

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Note about the word, “Maundy”:  It is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, or commandment (as in “mandate”).  On this 1st of the 3 days of our salvation, the Lord Jesus gave 2 commandments.  1.  When He washed His disciples feet He said, A new commandment that you love one another.  The sense of the Greek is that the new commandment is SO THAT you love another, which would mean the new commandment is to wash each other’s feet.  IN that way we love each other and show forth His love to all.  2. When He broke the bread and gave the Cup, He gave us His body and blood with the words, “Do this”.  The Holy Communion is not optional, but a command.  In Jewish tradition the 2 candles on the dining table represent:  Command and Remembrance.  Yes! “Do this, in remembrance of Me.” (!)  As we are serve one another the Lord serves us His Body and Blood till He comes again in glory.  His Church is called to serve the Dinner:  the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Mass.  Below is a solid sermon quote from one of the Lutheran Church, Dr. C.F.W. Walther on the meaning of the Mass.  A blessed Triuudum!

Triduum:  The Three Days

Holy (Maundy) Thursday

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS

Exodus 24:3-11

Psalm 116:12-19

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Mark 14:12-26

or

Exodus 12:1-14

Psalm 116:12-19

 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The apostle [Paul] wishes to say: Consider, beloved Christians, that when you receive the blessed cup and the blessed bread, each one partakes of the body and blood of Christ; they are both common to all of you. You come into body-and-blood fellowship with one another. For just as many grains become one bread, so in the Holy Supper, you, though you are many, become one Body, one mass, because you are partakers of the one bread and with it one and the same body and blood of Christ.

Because of the presence and participation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellowship and, therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the same family, to the table of our common, heavenly Father. As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly bread and drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ’s blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness.

 —C. F. W. Walther

Jesus, hail! Enthroned in glory,

There forever to abide;

All the heav’nly hosts adore Thee,

Seated at Thy Father’s side.

There for sinners Thou art pleading; There Thou dost our place prepare, Ever for us interceding

Till in glory we appear.

—Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus (LSB 531:3)

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