Church Write-Up: Maundy Thursday Road Trip

I went to the Missouri Synod Lutheran church’s Maundy Thursday service.

The pastor opened his sermon with an anecdote.  He said that, when his children were growing up, he, his wife, and his children lived in Colorado.  The maternal grandparents of the children lived in Austin, Texas, while the paternal grandparents lived in Wisconsin.  The pastor, his wife, and kids would drive over sixteen hours to see them, straight through.  The kids would be loaded into the van at night, settling into their nests, and the family would be off!

The pastor talked about the traditional places where they would stop to eat.  They would go to a McDonalds that had a playground, where the kids could run around.  They would also go to a Shoney’s.  This church is in Oregon, so the pastor explained to us what Shoney’s was, likening it to Red Robin and Shari’s.

The pastor spiritually allegorized his family’s tradition.  First, in the same way that his family made those restaurants their own—-part of their traveling experience—-so likewise did Jesus make the Passover his own.  The Passover was originally about Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, and the Passover meal served to prepare Israel for its journey ahead, which would include its encounter with God at Mount Sinai.  Jesus applied the Passover to his death, which would deliver people from bondage to sin.  Moreover, as Israel encountered God at Sinai, so would people see the heart of God on the hill where Jesus would die, Golgotha.

Second, the family’s meals at those stops refreshed them for the journey.  Jesus ate his meal with his disciples to prepare himself, and perhaps them, for the difficult journey ahead.  In addition, our journey as Christians is to love one another (John 13:34-35), and to love our neighbors.  Many find that tiring, however.  We tend to love those we like and to withhold love from those we dislike.  Some of us may profess a love for humanity, yet we despise people.  But love entails a giving of oneself to others.  How do we do this, when we by nature are selfish?  The pastor said that we feed on Christ, particularly in communion.

The pastor’s sermon brought to my mind some of my own road trips.  On the issue of love, I am not that good at reaching out to others, so love sermons are somewhat of a turn-off to me.  Still, the pastor raises a good point: what is our journey as Christians about?  Well, it is for us to become like Christ, to see people and situations as Christ does, and a significant component of that is love.  On us being inherently selfish, are Christians still inherently selfish, or have they been supernaturally transformed into unselfish people?  An answer to that, I suppose, is that their sinful flesh remains, yet the Holy Spirit is also within them, transforming them.

I’ll leave the comments open in case someone wants to add something constructive.  Snarky comments, or “Why don’t you quote the Bible more?” comments, will not be published.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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