Devotional for Holy Thursday
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.
John 13: 34-35
Some have asked why we are having a worship service every day this week from Palm Sunday to Easter. For our community, that’s nine separate services plus three chapel services with the day care kids and another chapel on Saturday morning for all our children. Some things we do only once a year. Christmas, might come to mine. But, with all the accompanying commercialism, it seems to last for months. Easter is once a year celebration, is less commercialized but clearly is seen as the one big day toward which we’re all leaning with anticipation.
Easter Day is wonderful. I love the lilies and the wonderful music so faithfully prepared by our dedicated musicians. But really, those are the only things that make Easter Sunday different from any other Sunday in the church year. Since every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection, it’s not that unique. That is, it doesn’t have the heft of a “once a year event.”
On the other hand, Holy Week is full of annual observances. From Palm Sunday when we remember Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, we stay by his side (through our daily worship and devotions,) we fully engage the scripture texts of his last days and nearly exhaust ourselves with changing our worship space to fit the daily focus.
Today is Maundy Thursday, a funny-sounding day to modern ears. We remind or teach folks that “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum that translates “command.” At the end of the story of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet, they are perplexed about why he (their teacher/rabbi/possible Messiah) would do a dirty servant’s task of washing feet. Jesus says he did it to teach them how they are to regard one another – as equals, as brothers and sisters, as other beloved children of God. Then he gives the new commandment (not advice or suggestion): Love one another. Note, there are no qualifiers. No: love those you like, love those who will love you back, love those who are kindred spirits, love those who can pay you back, love those with the same skin tone, etc. Nope, just the powerful simplicity of: Love one another!
Prayer for Maundy Thursday:
Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all. Amen.