On this fifth day of Holy Week, the “4 Amarillo” churches are assembling together at Polk Street United Methodist Church this evening for a traditional Maundy Thursday service. “Maundy” comes from an old French word (mande) and a Latin term (mandatum) that mean “command,” and point to Jesus’ words around the table with his disciples on that night he was betrayed: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Tonight we are reminded of the sacrificial and self-giving love demonstrated by our Lord as he washed the feet of his followers. We’re reminded of his faithfulness and obedience as he went willingly to his death that very night. And we’re inspired to imitate our Savior in living lives of service to others, considering their needs more important than our own.
And they’ve asked me to preach it again.
Still not sure why. It probably has something to do with the fact that Howie and Howard and Burt all have Good Friday services and multiple Easter Sunday services they’re preaching this weekend. And I don’t. So I get the Maundy Thursday gig.
Regardless, I’m very, very honored and excited to do it. This is a communion service. And there’s nothing more distinctly Christian we can do than to share the Lord’s Meal with a bunch of different disciples from a bunch of different denominations and backgrounds and interpretations. Christ died to destroy all the things that separate us from God and from one another. He died to tear down the walls, to annihilate the barriers, to rip the veil in two from top to bottom so that we all have equal access to the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all his people. So that we can all eat and drink together in his everlasting face-to-face presence. That’s why he died. And the only thing that keeps us from enjoying little slivers of that eternal feast here in this life is our refusal to love one another as Christ loved us.
Our own prejudices. Man-made lines of distinction. Our own arrogance and pride. Our unwillingness to practice the same love and acceptance and forgiveness and grace to other Christians that God in Christ showed and continues to show to us — that’s the only thing that keeps all God’s churches from expressing and practicing the kind of unity that would flat-out change the world.
I am grateful to belong to a faith community that understands this. I praise God that the leadership of our four downtown churches is pushing us to do more together, not less. And I cherish my partnership and friendship with Burt, Howard, and Howie. I pray that our Maundy Thursday gathering tonight encourages our churches, that it testifies boldly to the transforming work of Christ Jesus, and that it results in praise and glory to God.