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Thursday, March 20, 2008 

Maundy Thursday

From Uberblogger Reverend Paul McCain's Cyberbrethren email comes a nice little devotional that focuses us on that which is important, as opposed to the "distractions" of the last few days:

Today is the day in the Christian church year known as Maundy Thursday. Why "Maundy"? It is a word derived from the Latin word "Mandatum" which means "command" and originates from the words of our Lord spoken on the evening of this holy day so many years ago: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35).

Where does this love come from? Is it a human emotion? Oh, it is that, but so much more, in fact, much greater than a feeling. The love about which our Lord speaks is the eternal self-sacrificing and self- giving, self-emptying love that animates the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity Himself. "God is love" and therefore, "We love God because He first loved us." (1 John 4). How? As Christ told us, "No greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends." (John 15:13).

And on this day we have Love Incarnate giving Himself to us as He institutes the Most Venerable and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar: the Lord's Supper, also known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord's Table.

What is it? It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given to us Christians to eat and to drink.It is the holy of holies of the New Testament. It is where we are given, by the Lord Himself, into our very mouths, the body and blood given up and shed for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). All the ancient Old Testament animal sacrifices were foreshadows and types of the One final and last eternal sacrifice, the sacrifice by which our sins were cleansed and by which we are set free.

In the Holy Meal we have a share in that sacrifice and are given to eat of that sacrifice, as a sign, promise and assurance that we, personally, are covered by that sacrifice. Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation.

Through the Lord's Supper, Christ fortifies us to face whatever grief, pain or loss comes into our life. And, they will come, be sure of that. There will be the unexpected loss of a job, a disappointing decision made that impacts many. The loss of a loved one to death, which we will all go through. There is the worry and pressure of life in a busy world, the stress of a strained relationship, or a marriage that is going through a difficult time.

And there is then the sin that is ever before us. From which we can not escape, try as we might, the sin that brings us the weight of guilt and, like Adam and Eve, causes us to realize how naked and without excuse we stand before the Holy God. And we turn to the Lord of Life and plead for mercy and He answers our prayer. He says to you, "My son, my daughter, your sins are forgiven! You are mine. I have called you by name. Nothing shall separate you from my love. No sin is too great for my blood to cover. I love you. I forgive you. I lay down my life for you. You are my friend."

I can think of no more beautiful meditation on the priceless treasure of the Lord's Supper than Martin Luther's hymn: O Lord We Praise Thee May God grant you a blessed Maundy Thursday.

O Lord, we praise you bless Thee, and adore Thee, in thanksgiving bow before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish our weak souls that they may flourish.O Lord, have mercy!

May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary, that our sins and sorrows did carry, and Thy blood for us plead in all trial, fear, and need.O Lord, have mercy!

Thy holy body into death was given, life to win for us in heaven. No greater love than this to Thee could bind us; may this feast thereof remind us!O Lord, have mercy!

Lord, Thy kindness did so constrain Thee that Thy blood should bless and sustain me. All our debt Thou hast paid; peace with God once more is made.O Lord, have mercy.

May God bestow on us His grace and favor to please Him with our behavior and live as brethren here in love and union nor repent this blest Communion!O Lord, have mercy!

Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us; grant that heavenly-minded He make us; give Thy Church, Lord, to see, days of peace and unity.O Lord, have mercy!

About me

  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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