Maundy Thursday: A bowl, A candle, A spoon

First Reading: Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14

1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. [5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. ] 11This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 

1I love the Lord, who has heard my voice,
  and listened to my supplication,
2for the Lord has given ear to me
  whenever I called.
12How shall I repay the Lord
  for all the good things God has done for me?
13I will lift the cup of salvation
  and call on the name of the Lord. 
14I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all God’s people.
15Precious in your sight, O Lord,
  is the death of your servants.
16O Lord, truly I am your servant;
  I am your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me |from        my bonds.
17I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
  and call upon the name of the Lord.
18I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all God’s people,
19in the courts of the Lord‘s house,
  in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. 

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

CHILDREN’S SERMON:  Place a bowl, a candle and a spoon in front on the alter. Turn to your neighbor and share why we might need a bowl of water, a candle, and a spoon.

Let us pray.  Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Gospel: John 13:1-10

1Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 

Sermon Part 1 – A Bowl of Water

           The evening opens with Jesus humbling himself and washing the feet of the disciples.  Peter objects.  Jesus finally responds,  “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”   Without the washing away of sin, our relationships with God and people are dysfunctional.  Why are forgiveness and daily repentance so important?

FOREGIVENESS – A Bowl of Water

         Walter Wangerin Jr wrote a book, As For Me and My House, that I have given to all my children when they married.  While about marriage, it really is talking about all our relationships with others.  His seventh chapter is on forgiveness.  Conflict with others is unavoidable.  But how to resolve it is the dilemma.  For relationship to be restored we must do the work of forgiveness – for our sake.  Whether the pain is with someone deceased, someone distant, or with someone close, broken relationships drain us. It often takes a miracle to find reconciliation, God washing our feet.

         Wangerin shares: “Forgiveness is not just forgetting, it is not automatically healed by time, is not a change of heart on our part, and certainly is not just turning to the other and saying as our parent demanded “I forgive you,” Forgiveness requires a realistic evaluation; reflection to decide if our pride was hurt or if there was truly a sin committed.  Realistically name it.  Next, breathe deep and remember our own forgiveness.  I sacrifice my rights as “forgiveness places the burden of         reconciliation upon the one who suffered the mess (pg.99)” Then if possible the offended goes to the other and in clear words followed by actions that live out forgiveness, seeks forgiveness. 

         Jesus comes to the disciples, even Judas whom he knew would betray him, and washes their feet.  He knew they needed to be washed to start the evening.  Their feet were dirty.  We start our service with confession and forgiveness in this truth.  Let us know act out that process.  Take your fingers, as if they have water you want to shake off and I invite you now to shake water on your feet, or wash your hands, or dab your wet fingers marking a cross on your forehead to symbolize washing your thoughts, or on your ears to symbolize what you listen to, or on your lips for better speech, or even perhaps on your heart for grudges harbored.  Tonight we have the opportunity to get real with God about places in our lives that we know we need Him to wash.

         Let us pray with king David:

C:   “Have mercy on me, O God; according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (Psm 51:1-4)”

Hymn: Let Us Break Bread Together

Gospel:  Matthew 26: 26-29

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

SERMON – Part 2 – Light the candle

Lighting the Passover candles was one of the two duties for women in the Old Testament.  Our feet are washed and we now sit at the table with Jesus.


This evening let us put aside questions of Communion being a sacrament or an institution of remembrance.  It is a ritual of intensification.  We are living out our faith, as we understand it. We do not need to discuss bread, unleavened or potato chips, or of wine, fermented or unfermented.  Tonight we are in the presence of Jesus who has just washed our feet, and now invites us to commune with him.

         Jesus assures us that whether we are battling for our lives with Covid-19, overwhelmed by anxiety for the unseen danger that threatens our loved ones, or just plain bored from the continual catastrophic news on TV, Jesus has covenanted with us to be present.  Please hear these verses.

         “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will   fear no evil for you are with me (Psm. 23:4)”

         “He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not          slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor         sleep. (Psalm 121: 3,4)”

            10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my      victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)”

         The Great Commission ends with, “And remember, I am with you       always, to the end of the age. (Mt 28: 20)”

Congregation:  Lord, thank you for your presence represented by this bread and wine of communion to strengthen us for our journey. May we remember your sacrifice and presence with us. Amen.

Hymn: Amazing Grace on You

Gospel: John 13: 31b-35

  31b“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sermon — Part 3  – A Spoon

         We come to the end of Maundy Thursday and Jesus starts to turn his face to the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and Calvary.  The meal is finished and he turns to the disciples and gives them a “new commandment.”  Maundy is the word from which mandate or command comes.  34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  This is not a “new” command in the sense of being different.  This is the summary of the law and the prophets.

         During Lent we have encountered Jesus as “the Word,” “the light of the world,” the one who came to his creation and gave to all who received him the power to become children of God.  We have followed Jesus as he dealt with Nicodemus and did the impossible, helped him to see he could be born again.  Jesus gave security and new life to the woman at the well with a past, rejected by men but seen in the light of God’s love.  Jesus literally created eyes so that the man born blind could see the truth of his deity better than those who had physical sight.  Jesus now says the heart of the law is not rules to keep God happy like the laws of the kingdom of this world but the heart of the kingdom of heaven is love, God’s love for all. 

  Take the spoon in your hand.  It can be held out to reach for and drink the water of forgiveness.  It can also be turned upside down so that the water poured over the spoon flows outward to those around.  Jesus in these words is telling us to take that spoon and dip it into the bowl of water to give water to others, to plants in your house, to wash hands or feet, to bless others and to live as forgiven people. 

Jesus in this “new” command reframes the Ten Commandments, not to give a different commandment but to give us a new perspective and way of understanding the Ten Commandments.  Have “no other gods before me,” is “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength.”  Do not swear is now to use God’s name to express love and blessing, not for cursing.  We go to church to refocus on what is important and eternal.  We honor family and commitments.  We don’t take life, we give life.  We don’t objectify the other for our lusts but honor and respect others’ bodies.  We don’t take but we give to others.  We don’t tear down others but build them up.  We rejoice in other’s accomplishments.  Matthew has Jesus answering the question about the greatest commandment in the Law by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”

As we look at the bowl of water that represents how we have been forgiven, as we look at the candle and remember that Jesus is with us all the time, we also look at the spoon as a symbol of how we now relate to others. Are we treating others, as we would hope Jesus is treating us.  He touched the leper; he didn’t toss the rock at the woman caught in adultery.  He talked with an adulterous woman at the well.  He cast out demons.  He chose disciples from ordinary people like you and me.  Now he summarizes the Law, not in the 600 plus rules that must be followed to please God, but in a simple command to love as Jesus loves, who gave his life for others.

A bowl of water, A candle, A spoon

Tonight we bow in the tremendous knowledge that we are forgiven, we are guardians of God’s light, and we are the spoon to feed others God’s love. 

Let the people of God say, “Amen, Thank you, Lord”

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