Today I am putting the finishing touches to tonights Maundy Thursday Meditation and Communion Service, we will gather this evening to remember and tell the story of the last supper, entering into the emotionally charged atmosphere of the Upper Room. It strikes me that this was not a comfortable meal, that the gathered disciples had all come wondering what on earth was going to hapen next, the events of the week had been extraordinary, from the parade of what we now call Palm Sunday, to the astonishing clearing of the temple. The build up of anticipation as Jesus taugt day by day in the temple courts under the watchful eye of the religious leaders must have been tangiable amongst the disciples all of whom were probably wondering , despite Jesus own warnings, what on earth was coming next.
We know that Judas had plotted to betray him, frustrations had built within him to a point where he was no longer able to contain himself, he was desparate for something to happen, and yet he still gathers with them at the table where the feast has been prepared. How strange it must have seemed to all of them to be celebrating in this way, perhaps some think, before the passover had begun, and while the city around them would still have been preparing. Yet Jesus has called for the feast, gathering his friends together for the last time around the table with him. Once again we are drawn into their questioning, what on earth was coming next?
Try to imagine the shock of the disciples who have gathered with the one they call Lord and teacher as well as friend, yet there he was, at their meal, the host with a bowl and towel, the host speaking of his broken body and blood poured out, the host taking the place of the servant, the host whose love was about to be revealed in a way that they would not fully grasp, ( if any of us ever have truly understood it….), even in the days and months, and perhaps years that would follow. What on earth was coming next…?
Tonight as we gather he will be our host, and we will tell the familiar story, I must admit that as I tell the story and lead the liturgy that the same question echoes in my head as I pray for the church, the world and even for myself. We often say that we live in dark times, but I suspect that that has been said through the ages as the world has been ravaged by doubt and despair, war and disaster, and as personal lives have been rocked by tradgedies as well as joys. As for that question surely it has been asked over and over again by groups and individuals in prayer and in groanings…
Terror attacks, long running wars, refugee crisies, diseases, injustices, loss, pain and heartache, all of these meet in the blood and sweat of Jesus brow as he kneels in the garden and calls us to kneel with him.
So, with the finishing touches completed we shared in worship this evening; and as we left our service in silence and darkness we lit a single candle, a light of hope to leave by, a light that reminded us of the promise that darkness will not win out no matter how deep it seems.
Loving God remind us that even within our darkest night you will kindle a flame that never dies away…
We go with hope, even into the darkness…
Picture by Koder