Today is Maundy Thursday. On this day we remember the events of Jesus’ last night before his execution on Good Friday. I grew up thinking that somehow Monday had become Thursday in Holy Week, until I learned the real significance of the name “Maundy”. This word is related to the common word “Mandate”, and the mandate we remember on this day is Jesus command to “Love One Another”.
It’s a love Jesus modeled for us, by offering a celebration of remembrance and thanksgiving that we observe each time we partake in Holy Communion. It’s a love Jesus modeled for us when he knelt down in front of his disciples and washed their feet as a symbol of how far we should go to love one another. It’s a love Jesus modeled for us when he gave up his life for us – naming it the greatest love a human could have.
It’s also the love he showed for Peter, who despite claiming he would go “all the way” with his Master, fell well short of the mark, and abandoned Jesus in his hour of greatest need. Jesus, knowing Peter would not travel all the way to the cross, told Peter “when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”. This is a powerful message for discipleship in a church that so often speaks loudly, but fails to go “all the way” with Christ. It’s a message of love and forgiveness, acknowledging that none of us will ever be perfect disciples. We will fail, time and time again, to worship Christ as we ought, to serve others as we ought, to love the world as we ought, and even to give our lives as we ought.
We will fail to go “all the way” with Jesus. But that never means ultimate failure. When we are turned back by hate, fear, blindness, injustice and death, Jesus wants us to use those experiences to strengthen each other, to gather with each other around the cross and remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice; to remember the master who knelt and washed the feet of his servants; to remember the simple command to “Love One Another”.
That, my friends, is going all the way with Jesus.
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.