I remember the morning I called my father to tell him I had decided to quit advertising to become a minister. It was on Maundy Thursday in 2010. I remember it well because when I asked him to hand the phone to mom so I could tell her, he informed me that she was in the upper room. By that he meant The Upper Room. Yes, the very room where Jesus shared his final meal with his disciples.
Having been a tourist in many ancient cities, I suspect it wasn’t the exact room. But still my parents were there, in Jerusalem, at the table, on this very holy night when our Lord and King removed his royal cloak and became a lowly servant.
There in a stranger’s humble home Jesus bent down to wash the dirty feet of twelve men who quit their jobs to live out the rest of their days in self-emptying love for the world. With nothing more than basin of water and a simple towel, Christ held their tired, aching feet, and began to wash each one of them clean. It is in this intimate, yet humbling gesture we learn what it means to serve and to love our neighbor. We discover it requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to move beyond our comfort zone, and to give fully and fearlessly of our self. At this table, Jesus guides us towards a new way of living life abundantly in God’s love.
Through his example of self-giving love and servitude, Jesus invites us into an intimate relationship where we are more than just simple followers; we are friends and companions. Likewise, we are to open ourselves up to others, to share in the intimacy of life where friendships are made and communities of trust are created.
To be a friend of Christ, to bear the name Christian, means we are called to walk in love in the midst of a broken and wounded world. Through us, God continues to send his Son into our communities to share his Divine love with our neighbors. With God at our side, we can move beyond our comfort zones and make ourselves vulnerable.
In the solemnness of this evening back in 2010, I sat in a pew and saw Maundy Thursday from a new perspective. Not as a spectator, but as one who accepted the call to follow Christ. I had no idea where the journey would take me.
Yet here I am tonight. In this room, to serve you at this table, this remembrance meal. For it was on this night that our Lord and King gave us his body and blood to bring us back in a covenant relationship with God and with one another.
Let us all dare to be with He who knew no sin. The Holy One who rose from this table, walked out into the world, and stretched out his sacred arms; joining heaven to earth, and true love to all human kind. For it is through the love of God in Christ Jesus that we gather together as one world, one people, in one community of divine love.
*Illustration by: Matt Dix, "The Last Supper"