Maundy Thursday is the night the Christians remember the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Liturgically we celebrate it, and then the altar is stripped. The service does not really end, no “Now Let Us Depart in Peace”, no benediction, no closing hymn. It continues with Good Friday. If follows to the garden and the trial and the cross and the grave. It finishes on Easter Morning.
The meal is a Passover meal, it is also as it is called a “last supper”. It is a reading of the last testament of Jesus. And what Jesus grants us is himself. He gives us his righteousness. He gives us unity with God. And he does this by giving us his body and blood with the bread and wine. This sermon is a reflection on that great miracle.
The job of a pastor could be described as putting forward very old things, things we all know by heart, in ways that make the heart recognize them again. That is how Paul starts his presentation of the the sacrament of the altar: what I received, I delivered. Part of what he delivers are two suggestions or even injunctions: 1) discern or recognize the body and 2) examine yourself. This sermon attempts to put forward at least three ways of recognizing the body, and then leaning on Luther’s preparation questions and the confessional address we started the service with is presses the examination.
The Confessional Address in the title was something we as a congregation heard at the start of the service. If you have a Lutheran Service Book you can see one very much like it on pg. 290. These things as the sermon will say used to be standard in communion services. They would be prior to the Lord’s prayer and remind all what and why we are doing in the Lord’s Supper. Seeing as the entire point of Maundy Thursday is to receive Christ’s mandate, whether that is taken as “love one another” or “do this in remembrance” it seemed a good liturgy to use and understand.
Actually hearing Jesus is tough. What I mean by that isn’t that listening is tough, but that what he is attempting to teach is just so foreign to both our natural ways of thinking and our learned ways. The text today in the context of the the Gospel according to Luke is actually a non-confrontational part. Things should be low key, but Jesus’ teaching might be at its most extreme. And that is part of the mystery of faith and its danger. Wisdom rightly would tell us to avoid the extremes, except when the extreme is what is true. That is the mystery of Jesus. He is extreme, but he is true.
This sermon develops that theme. It suggests that this mystery is grounded in the two natures of Christ. And it suggests that our experience of of being bound either to sin or to Christ is also an expression of this mystery. We so want to be in the middle, in the mean, but truth is at the edges. If you listen I hope it inspires some good contemplation, a hearing of Jesus. And at hearing an attempt not to settle for the mean, but to live the tension of Christian extreme.
I did not include any of the hymns today primarily because the recording quality wasn’t quite there. Hymns are so much better live. (Sermons too for that matter.) So please, take this as an invite to come next Sunday. Blessings.
The gospel text for the day by some commentators is the exact center of Luke’s gospel, or the center of what is called the travel narrative. The commentators that mention this find in this central text the key to interpretation. While not 100% buying that exegetical move or reading method, this sermon tip its hand in that direction. In five short verses there are a couple of gospel deep contrasts. The first is the fears of the Pharisees and Jesus. The second is the love of God in gathering vs. the rejection of that love that divides.
This sermon explores that contrast between the Pharisees and Jesus as the basis of our salvation and freedom. It then moves on to understand the moral choice that difference places on us. Do we accept the love of God in Christ, or do we demand our house be left to us? Finally it explores a frightening implication of that moral choice and how the doctrine of election in a Lutheran understanding should be pure gospel.
On a personal note, I am rarely happy with the outcome of the sermon when election is a doctrine explored, but I still like this one. I think it makes the actual connection between the eternal reality of that election, and the temporal means. The eternal reality is a mystery held by God, but the temporal means are the sacraments.
The text is the feeding of the 5000 which is portrayed as a foreshadowing of the Last Supper, so this sermon is about communion. A moment of self reflection here, compared to most of my sermons which are unified pieces around a single theme and following a single outline. This one is a little more Pointillistic. Two parts, a catechism part which builds up pictures around a review of Luther’s Catechism on the Lord’s Supper and a compare contrast section looking at the Crowds desires and reactions and Jesus’ desires and reactions. Jesus’ desires, expressed in the Lord’s Supper form us into His people. And that is often at cross-purposes with what we think we desire (i.e. the crowds). For me the picture that ultimately emerges is which people to you want to be a part of: those invited to the meal or those looking for a general/king. And that has a surprising number of personal applications.
Maundy Thursday is the night of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This sermons keys off of two things: 1) the idea of preparation. The disciples asked what they needed to do to prepare the Passover. What is a fitting preparation for the Lord’s Supper? The text helps us answer this. 2) What are the effects of reception? There are two groups who receive the first – the 11 represented by Peter and 1 represented by Judas. Again in this we get a glimpse of our answer.
I’ve left in the recording the Choir singing O Perfect Life of Love, and the congregation singing Aquinas’ Now My Toungue The Mystery Telling (LSB 630) and the first verse one of the classing Lutheran Chorales Soul Adorn Yourself With Gladness (LSB 636)