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Maundy Thursday Sermon

Maundy Thursday is always a powerful service for me.  Washing feet is an important part of the service because it brings home the message that we are here to be servants to others.  Stripping the altar brings tears to my eyes.  Here are the readings and a brief sermon.

The Epistle
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

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, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In 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." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
The Gospel
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Now 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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus 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." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little 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.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

The Sermon

What does maundy mean? In some circles it means washing of the feet and that is part of the ritual of Maundy Thursday. In this reading from John, Peter is very uneasy about allowing Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus was once again breaking the rules. It was the job of servants to wash the feet of their masters two thousand years ago and Peter felt like it should be the other way around. Jesus said no because he was teaching Peter and the others a lesson.

Jesus wanted to show his disciples the importance of humility and service. We are here to serve each other and we should always keep in mind that by serving others we are serving God. That's it. Don't let your ego get in the way. Be humble. Serve others. When you do these things you serve God.

Another belief is that the word maundy has as its root the Latin word mandatum or to mandate. Jesus last statement, His final mandate, was to love one another as he has loved us. True love also means a willingness to sacrifice. Jesus paid the ultimate price for his love of humanity. He gave up his life on the cross.

When people believe they are about to die, they often try to send a message to the ones they love. You hear stories today of people who use their cell phones to call their wife or husband or whoever is dear to them and tell them they do not think they will make it and they just want that person to know that he or she is loved. Jesus did the same.

I am not going to give you examples of what love is because you have examples of your own. The challenge for you and me is to shed whatever is getting in the way of loving each other so that we can be disciples of Jesus and practice his message of love.


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