A NIGHT FOR REMEMBERING: A MEDITATION FOR MAUNDY THURSDAY
(by Patricia Raube)
MAUNDY THURSDAY 2022
This is a night on which we remember. We remember something that happened so long ago, none of us can trace our family trees back that far. We remember something that happened so far away, most of us have never been there, and never will be. Nevertheless, we remember.
We remember that on this night, Jesus and his friends were also gathered to remember. They gathered for a Passover meal, which is, exactly, a feast of remembering. Like us, they were gathered around a table. Like us, they were telling the story of their faith. Like us, they were calling to mind the saving acts of God…
They remembered God being with them, in steadfast love, even as they were treated harshly and enslaved. They remembered God leading their ancestors in faith out of slavery, and turning their bitter burden into sweet freedom.
And as they dipped the vegetables in salt water, to remind them of their tears, and as they ate the sweet fruit, to remind them of their joys, they were putting it all together. That’s what “remember” means… to put something back together. We “re-member” something, and what was scattered becomes whole. What was many becomes one.
And so they remembered together, Jesus and his friends, their identity as God’s covenant people. Simon was there (who Jesus had named Peter), and Andrew. John and James, the brothers, sons of Zebedee. Philip. Bartholomew. Thomas and Matthew. Another James, the son of Alphaeus. Thaddeus. Another Simon, the Cananean. And of course, Judas Iscariot.[i] (Also, of course, the women who likely prepared the supper, the ones who are neither named nor mentioned; but who, logic and the fact that, before the end of the story, we will learn their names, tells us, they were surely there.)
They were all there, to remember God’s great and saving acts. They were there, in a sense, to remember who they were. And then Jesus did something… inexplicable.
*Move to the communion table. Prepare to eat the communion bread.
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it, he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.”
This was not the first time Jesus had taken bread, and blessed it, and broken it, and given it to people to eat. But those other times, he did it for great crowds. Here, in this large upstairs room somewhere in Jerusalem, Jesus did it for his friends. The people he loved. He did it for a group of people who, from the beginning of their time together, mostly didn’t understand what he was doing and where they were going. He did it with some level of confidence that this was, in fact, the last supper he would share with them.
On this night, at this meal, the meaning of the bread was pre-determined. Matzoh, the bread eaten at the Passover Seder, is called the “bread of affliction” or adversity. In Isaiah 30 it says, “Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.”
The matzoh reminds us of the suffering of the slaves in Egypt. But on that night, Jesus tells his friends, he is the bread. He will suffer. He will be broken.
*Pass out the cup
Then, scripture tells us, Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the [new] covenant…” *Take and drink
Again, Jesus has taken this night of remembering, and done something new and electrifying. Inexplicable.
The meaning of the wine at the Passover meal is consistent. The wine is shared as part of a blessing. “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine, and who gave us, Lord our God, with love, festivals for happiness, holidays and times for joy, this day of Passover, the time of our freedom. “
At the Seder, wine is drunk in blessing and celebration and abundance, and the sharing of it is meant to “show freedom and majesty.” [i]
And then Jesus, after passing around the wine, says, “This is my blood.” Jesus tells his friends, his life will be poured out, in much the same way as the life of the Passover lamb.
Jesus joins with his friends to remember, to celebrate the Passover… a meal that resonates at the heart of their identity as Jews. At the same time, Jesus interprets the bread and wine of that meal in a way that forms the heart of our identity. That is what we are here to remember, to re-member. We are putting it back together. In re-membering, what was scattered becomes whole. What was many becomes one.
At this table, we remember that Jesus spoke of his body being broken, like a piece of bread; and he spoke of his life being poured out, like a cup of wine. And now, Jesus is not hidden from us any more; our eyes can see our Teacher. We see: in Jesus, God’s love is poured out, like a never-ending cup of wine. We see: in Jesus, God’s presence comes to us, our daily bread, bread for the journey. We see: in Jesus, God acts with love and power, and the goal, again, is joy and freedom. All these things we see, when we re-member. When what was scattered in our history becomes whole. When what was many—that would be us—becomes one.
Like Jesus and his friends, we gather around a table, we tell the story of our faith, and we call to mind the saving acts of God. And like them, now we sing.
*HYMN: “’Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” No 194 (Chalice)
Scripture Reading: Mark 14:26-31
Peter’s Denial Foretold
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.
HYMN: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” No 196, verse 1 Public Domain
Go to dark Gethsemane, all who feel the tempter’s power;
your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with him one bitter hour:
turn not from his griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
Scripture Reading: Mark 14: 32-50
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba,[h] Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[i] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.
Hymn: “Go to Dark Gethsemane” verse 2 Public Domain
Follow to the judgment hall; view the Lord of life arraigned,
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame or loss; learn of him to bear the cross.
Scripture Reading: Mark 14: 53-72
Jesus before the Council
53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah,[j] the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and
‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.
Peter Denies Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.[k] Then the cock crowed.[l
Bible Gateway passage: Mark 14 – New Revised Standard VersionThe Plot to Kill Jesus – It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief pri…
]69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Hymn: “What Wondrous Love Is This” verses 1 & 3 No 200 (Chalice)
1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
3 To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing.
Depart in Silence