Lent–Day 38–Maundy Thursday

Tonight we had a lovely service, with help from our Sunday School. They brought down the gifts at communion, and stayed to help with the euchastic prayer and the Lord’s prayer. It was wonderful to be surrounded by children at the altar.

I tried to get onto our website earlier in the day, but the server was having technical difficulties, and I actually couldn’t log on. Here are the readings for the Revised Common Lectionary and the Prayers of the day:
Maundy Thursday
April 1, 2010
Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (13)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Prayer of the Day
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, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
or
Eternal God, in the sharing of a meal your Son established a new covenant for all people, and in the washing of feet he showed us the dignity of service. Grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit these signs of our life in faith may speak again to our hearts, feed our spirits, and refresh our bodies, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
I give you a | new commandment,
that you love one another just as I | have loved you. (John 13:34).

All day I’ve been thinking about the love command, and remembering a wonderful sermon by Professor John Hoffmeyer at LTSP, who reminded us that love can be commanded, it can’t be compelled. The command is subversive, because love can only happen in freedom. It’s an act of freedom, freely offered, freely recieved, freely chosen. Jesus says at the end of the Gospel passage, they’ll know you are my followers because you love one another. Maybe another way to say that: they’ll know you are my followers because you love one another in your freedom to do so. You are my followers and you are set free to love.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about today is the Passover, and remembering the question: what makes this night different. We’re in the Triduum now, and time has changed, slowed down, every hour something happens in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Passion. Right now, we are waiting in the garden; it’s after supper and Jesus has gone to the garden on the Mount of Olives. He’s asked his disciples to wait and watch with him, and now he has gone off to pray. We know what happens–they fall asleep, while he prays so deeply and so intensely his sweat becomes like drops of blood. Somehow, I think, even if we are asleep, somewhere we know that Jesus is praying.
Peace to you this night; may you wait and watch with Jesus.

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