“Maundy” What A Strange Word

Welcome to the Evertsberg’s home. Bill shares what we need with us as we virtually celebrate Maundy Thursday tomorrow, he reminds us of Jesus’ new commandment to love each other as God and Christ love us, then finishes with a favorite meme from Silvi Pirn.

Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg. I’m one of the pastors at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Doogie, my assistant pastor. I love that quote from our Day-by-Day calendar which says “All dogs are therapy dogs, most of them are just freelancing.” That’s Doogie—he’s a therapy dog who freelances.

So on Thursday, April 9, we will be celebrating two worship services for Maundy Thursday. The first is at 4:15 for our young families. That will be a Zoom meeting and I think if you visit our website, it will be clear there how you can join that Zoom meeting.

And then also at 7:30 as we do every year, we’ll have a traditional service of Tenebrae in the sanctuary. You’ll be worshiping with us virtually, of course. Tenebrae is a Latin word which means “darkness,” and it refers to the darkness that is falling across Jesus’ life in the last two days of his life, Thursday and Friday, and so we will be presenting seven vignettes from those last two days of Jesus’ life and extinguishing seven candles to represent the encroaching shadows that are falling across Jesus’ life those last two days.

So “Maundy,” what a strange word. I wonder why they call it “Maundy Thursday.” And I’m glad you asked. “Maundy” is a corruption, or a mistaken translation, of the Latin word mandatum, or mandate, or commandment, and it comes from John 13:34, when Jesus says “a new commandment I am giving you.”

And the new commandment that Jesus is giving his friends on that Thursday is that they love one another as God in Christ has loved them. So the first important thing that happens on Maundy Thursday, that last Thursday of Jesus’ life, is that Jesus shows his friends how to love each other by washing their feet.

And the second important thing that happens on that first Maundy Thursday, of course, is that Jesus celebrates his last supper with his friends.

And so on Thursday night, April 9, 7:30, we will be celebrating the last supper as well. And you can celebrate with us, but you need to help us out by being prepared. We hope that you’ll have some bread available, unleavened bread is best because that’s how Jesus celebrated with his friends, with matzo or something very much like matzo. And also of course having some wine available, and commune with Jo and me in the sanctuary virtually.

David Platt, my colleague, is the senior minister at the McLean Bible Church outside of Washington, D.C., and recently David was reflecting about the odd experience of livestreaming your worship services and preaching your sermons to an empty house.

But then David got to thinking, it’s not really an empty house because he sees the faces of his congregation while he’s doing this.

Over in that section of the sanctuary sits a family of four whose father has just lost his job.

There’s an older man who sits over there who’s just lost his wife and he’s enduring this social isolation all by himself, he’s very lonely.

There’s a young woman with mental illness who is beset by anxiety.

There is a young single mother of four children, two of whom have special needs. She’s just lost her job and she doesn’t know how she’s going to make ends meet.

There’s a high school student who sits over there who delivers provisions to the front porch of his elderly neighbors.

And the Rev. Platt thinks of the hundreds, thousands of medical workers who are caring for the ill, and the hundreds, no thousands, of lay people who are caring for the medical workers.

A couple days ago, Silvi sent me this internet meme. I hope you can see this. This is our empty church at Christmastime, and the little saying reads: “The Church is not empty. It’s just been deployed.”

And so that meant a lot to me. The way I’m thinking about it is that our church is not empty, you’ve just been deployed, all over the world, following Jesus’ new commandment that you love each other as Jesus has loved you. And I hope that’s true of you during this time. The Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.