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Reflections On This Maundy Thursday

March 29, 2018

As I reflected a couple of days ago in my Blog (Holy Week Reflections) this Lenten season has been unusual. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that today, Maundy Thursday, I feel much different from prior years. I went home for lunch with Denise and told her that I felt numb. She had forgotten that tonight we had our Maundy Thursday service at the church and so we both realized just how out of it we were. We again talked about how it felt like we were trying to “catch up with Jesus” much like she experienced during our Ignatian Spirituality class at Columbia Theological Seminary a couple of years ago. I shared how it felt like I was going through the motions with a numbness that is not typical for me when it comes to worship.

As we sat in silence over our plates, Denise suddenly asked–I wonder how Jesus felt on this day? The Disciples had gathered in the Upper Room with Jesus to celebrate the Passover. It was another Passover for them, but for Jesus it was profoundly different. Jesus, when you tried to wash the Disciples feet, how did you feel? You were trying to make a profound statement about what it meant to be a servant and a leader at the same time and they didn’t get it. Jesus, when you broke the bread and shared the cup as a part of the Passover meal, what did it feel like to share the cup and the bread with a brother whom you loved dearly, who was about to betray you? How did it feel to hear the Disciples talk about how they would never desert you, knowing that they would turn tail and run when you were arrested? Jesus, how did it feel for you to celebrate your last Passover meal with your Disciples on this earthly sphere?

Jesus, the Passover was established to remember the night God set your ancestors free from bondage in Egypt. Did you feel like you were free? From the sound of your prayer in the garden, you didn’t feel free at all as you wrestled with God about the cup that was before you.  Did it feel to you like you were going through the motions during that Passover Feast? Did the Disciples really hear you when you spoke straight from your heart about a new covenant? Jesus, did you feel numb as you wrestled with what was going on? Did you feel terribly alone?

This Lenten season has been one of tremendous wrestling for me. I have been walking through the Valley of the Shadows with so many people and with my family. So I guess it isn’t a surprise that I would feel numb as the hour for our Maundy Thursday Service approaches.

This Lenten season has been so different from any other Lent that I can remember as a pastor or chaplain. I have been running to catch up with Jesus and now that we are about to go to the Table, I feel numb. Jesus, are you there with me in my numbness? Will the Spirit lift me as She always seems to do when I am at my lowest? Will I be able to take the cup you give to me and drink from it?

The contrast is stark… much like the difference between the two pictures taken out of my office window today four hours apart. At the beginning, it was partly cloudy but you could see blue sky and the sun was shining. Four hours later, I can barely see Mount Olympus through the clouds and the snow.

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On the night when he was betrayed, Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to his Disciples. He said, this is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same manner, after the supper was ended, he took the cup, blessed it and gave it to his Disciples. He said, this is the cup of the new covenant, sealed in my blood, for the forgiveness of sins. Drink from it all of you, in remembrance of me.

Jesus, you were there in the midst of the brokenness and pain. You broke the bread and shared the cup knowing that you would soon be betrayed, tortured, convicted by a kangaroo court, tortured some more, and finally crucified. With love in your heart, you transformed the Passover meal into something even more incredible. As we prepare for worship tonight, Lord come to the table. As we remember, may you be present with us.

Speak to this Padre, Lord… in the midst of the numbness and sorrow… in the midst of the Valley of the Shadows… speak, Lord… for your servant is listening…

4 Comments
  1. Thanks for your transparency.

    Be blessed brother! God is with you, even in numbness.

  2. I so appreciate your honest confession, Michael. In it I see traces of the inner conflict Jesus must have suffered as He bent the knee to those whom He greatly loved and would soon be departing from. Maybe He already felt the sting of that loss to come. And you have been so long in the Valley of the Shadows with your congregation and beloved family members. Yes, you might feel like you are going through the motions but I think that God is pleased with you showing up just as you are, broken heart and all. May you meet with Him in the sorrow and rise with joy in your soul as God lifts you once again. Loving thoughts and prayers carry you, my friend. And God will sustain you every step of the way. 💜

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