Exodus 12: 1-14, 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26, John 13: 1-17, 34-35. Maundy Thursday, 2017 I come from a card playing family. '500', Whist, Up and Down, Cribbage, Gin Rummy, Kings in the Corner, Canasta. You name it, we probably played it, except Pinochle and Bridge. Never learned them. Anyways, I probably wouldn't have dared announce that in church 75 years ago. No card playing was allowed back then. In fact, I've been told we couldn't even call our folding tables card tables.... Now when we play cards in our house, there is a phrase we use when someone unexpectedly leads trump. We say they “played a Bouman.” Now if you asked anyone besides me why we say that, I 'd suggest they'd be unable to tell you. Well, it's a tradition that began when I was in college. We played a lot of cards in our apartment at Willmar Community College. We had a friend who like to lead trump. His name was Mark...Bouman. And so 40 years ago, playing a Bouman began a tradition that carries on today. Maundy Thursday is a night of tradition.
Jesus, as a first century Jew, would have celebrated the passover with his family growing up. And we remember that he shared a final Passover meal with his disciples on that Maundy Thursday 2000 years ago. But the Apostles didn't know that it was his last...or at least they wouldn't acknowledge it. But Jesus knew and came into the evening with an agenda. He was giving his disciples their final instructions. Like the commander of an army poised for battle, Jesus was giving them their marching orders. These orders were not about war, but about peace...and humility...and service. He, their commander-in-chief if you will, took the job of the lowliest servant and washed the disciples' feet. Fulton Sheen, in his book Life of Christ wrote, “He had taught humility by precept, by parable, by example and now by condescension. The (washing of feet) was a summary of his incarnation.” Jesus, the Lord of the universe, humbled himself just by taking on humanity but then got on his knees and humbly washed dirty, dusty feet. When I was a child I remember clearly the priest washing feet on Maundy Thursday. That is a tradition that is seldom followed today and it is not what Jesus meant when he told them that he was giving them “an example”. His example was humility and it was servant-hood. But Peter...who is never shy about giving his thoughts, insisted that Jesus should not wash his feet. Peter did not yet understand humility and servant-hood. But when Jesus explained the washing was important for their relationship, Peter wanted a complete washing. Jesus finally asked the disciples, “Do you know what I have done to you?” They didn't. He tells them, “I have given you an example. Do as I did.” What did he do? He loved completely and unconditionally. We concluded the reading today with the words of Jesus, his final orders: “I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” On this Maundy Thursday we gather as a community of followers sharing this love Jesus commanded. We love in fellowship and worship; we love when we go out and serve others. We heard in Paul's letter to the Corinthians: For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you. I want to conclude by considering what is is we have received from the Lord. We have received tradition. Passover is a tradition thousands of years old. It was at this traditional meal that Jesus gave us his final instructions. It is in this tradition that we gather tonight to remember. We have received a new covenant. The Passover was part of the old; the death and resurrection of Jesus marks a new age, a new covenant. The new covenant has Jesus Christ as the lamb that is slain. His blood shed, body broken is the new passover sacrifice; the sign of the new covenant. We have received an example from the Lord. Jesus humbled himself and washed the disciples feet. Jesus said, “Do as I did”. That is an example for us as it was for the disciples. An example of how we ought to live but also an example of the level of humility Jesus was willing to condescend to in his incarnation. Jesus left his place in glory to dwell with us; but lived among as a servant rather than a king! And then we have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. A sacrament where we eat and drink in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. We churches are one in this sacrament, one in the presence of Christ. Finally, we have received this holy meal as a memorial. Julie and I returned from Washington D. C. one week ago this very hour. We saw memorials; the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the WW II, Korean and Vietnam Memorials. Beautiful, marble creations. Christian author and preacher W. A. Criswell once wrote that the Lord's Supper is first of all a memorial to the atoning death of our Savior. “But our Lord did not create a memorial out of marble to bring us the memory of our Savior's suffering on our behalf. In fact, this memorial is not in the form of any kind of structure...this simple memorial is to be repeated again and again and again. The broken bread recalls for us His torn body, and the crimson of the cup reminds us of the blood poured out for the remission of sin.” Tradition, covenant, sacrament, example, a memorial...we are gathered in community to receive these blessings from the Lord. Let us give thanks, and let these gifts change our lives. Amen. Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love 367 PH