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Maundy Thursday

St. Mary’s Church, Crousetown, April 13, 2006

1 Cor 11:23-29 Luke 23:1-49

 

With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.

 

As with Palm Sunday there is again tonight a mixture of joy and horror in readings appointed.  On Palm Sunday – there was the triumphal entry of Jesus the King into Jerusalem and then His horrible death upon the Cross. 

 

Tonight we remember that night that Jesus gathered together with all of his disciples for the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper – the Passover meal with friends, transfigured.  And then we have heard in the Gospel of His death that makes that very meal transfiguring for us.

 

With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.

 

These are the words of our Lord when he began to speak to his disciples that night.  They are the words of God the Word made flesh.

 

They express the desire of God for fulfillment of all of the patient preparation of humanity for their reconciliation through the death and resurrection of Christ.  God who has created us through the Word, who has seen humanity rejecting him, who knows intimately of the sufferings of every human being from the beginning, their blindness to truth, their paralysis to love, has seen their nature become rebellious and bent on destruction; God the Word, in love, speaks of His desire to eat this Passover with His followers.

 

The disciples were seeing for the first time that night and in the days to come, the whole Old Testament history coming to life, its many shadows and figures all pointing to this reality unfolding before their eyes.

 

The tree of life in the Garden from which pre-fallen man could eat the fruit thereof and never die – the disciples would soon all partake of that fruit again. 

Remember:

The sacrificial lamb of righteous Abel that was more pleasing to God than the offering of Cain;

The sudden appearance to Abraham of Melchizedek, priest of God most high, with bread and wine at the restoration of peace;

The manna from heaven and the water that sprang forth from the Rock to sustain the people of God in the wilderness;

The holy “bread of the presence” placed in the tabernacle and later in the temple; 

The sacrifices of bulls and goats, whose blood was shed for the cleansing of the flesh; and all of the sacrifices under the Law – peace offerings, burnt offerings, sin offerings, atonement offerings – offered to God and some consumed in part by priest and people. 

Lady Wisdom calling all to “come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed that we might leave simpleness and live, and walk in the way of insight

 

And of course, the Passover lamb sacrificed in Egypt, whose blood was sprinkled on the doorways of the faithful, that death might pass over them, and that they might be led out of slavery and into freedom. 

 

These figures, these shadows, God placed in history, so that the people might look forward to the true reality to which they pointed.

With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you.

 

We now look back, but knowingly, in the Holy Communion, to the death and passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  In this Sacrament, the bread and the wine are more than figures.  When received rightly, worthily, and with faith, the Bread is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ. (Article XXVIII)

 

In the Holy Communion God gives to the Church an instrument whereby we may obtain the remission of our sins and all other benefits of his passion

 

    Here, Christ’s saving blood is applied continually to our soul’s health not only assuring us of forgiveness but healing the damage caused by sin [Hooker];

 

    Here, our souls are united with God as they are cleansed:   though we are unworthy so much as to eat the crumbs that fall from His table, yet we are invited to sit with Christ Himself as friends – [Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends], we are invited to the marriage feast and are clothed with the garment of Christ Himself.

 

    and here, our souls are united with our brother and sisters in Christ – We come to see and know in one another our common humanity and that we are all flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone.

 

With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you.

 

May Christ’s desire on that final Passover, be met tonight by all of our hearts’ desire.

 

O God who in a wonderful sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy passion: Grant us so to reverence the holy mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever know within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

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