In three hours we will sit in a quieted church sanctuary preparing for the Maundy Thursday service. This beautiful commemoration of Christ’s meeting with his disciples for the last time before his trial and crucifixion wasn’t a part of my religious tradition, but it has become one of the most meaningful events of my faith walk. Derived from a Latin word meaning command, maundy refers to Jesus’ words as he ate his final meal with his friends: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
He had just demonstrated the culturally astounding kind of love he was talking about when, without fanfare, he carried out the role of the lowest servant in a household: washing the dusty feet of his disciples, even one who would soon deny that he ever knew Jesus and another who would, with a traitor’s kiss, identify this Lord as the one to be crucified.
Last times, events, experiences become especially meaningful after the death of a loved one. “Remember the Christmas when…?” “This would have been his twenty first birthday…” “She always loved going for dinner on our anniversary.” And in the same manner this “last supper” is celebrated around the world among followers of Christ. Not because he is dead but because he lives!
The celebration goes by many names—eucharist, communion, blessing, Lord’s Supper—but when we eat the bread and drink from the cup with a sense of the holy, we are transported back to that upper room where questioning, sorrowful, confused disciples sat with Jesus. He had warned them about what was to come but in no way did they understand the horror that lay ahead. This one last time they gathered with the friend they love and with whom they’d walked for three years.
Tonight we too sit and contemplate–often confused, questioning and sorrowful–this one we love.