Church Write-Up: Maundy Thursday 2019

Here are items from today’s Maundy Thursday service.

A. The pastor said that Luke foreshadows Christ’s death and resurrection, as if those were the reasons that Christ came. Luke 2:7 states that Jesus, as an infant, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger because there was no room in the inn, or “kataluma” in Greek. Luke 23:53 uses “kataluma” for the place where Jesus and his disciples ate the last supper. There was no room at the inn when Jesus was born, but there is room at the Lord’s supper. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes as an infant, and he was wrapped in linen as a corpse in Luke 23:53 (though the Greek word for “wrap” is different in those passages).

B. This is a fallen world. Our dysfunction attests to that, and we can become so preoccupied with our dying bodies that we do not rejoice in eternal life. Fallenness weighs us down.

C. The Lord’s supper was to be a supper of remembrance: Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.” “Remember” in Hebrew is richer than mere recollection: it means to re-experience, or relive. Israelites relived the Exodus at the Passover. Christians at the Lord’s supper re-experience Christ’s last supper, but also get a taste of the banquet that Christ will eat with the saints in the eschaton. The pastor talked about how his grandmother used to make him meringues cooked in Mexican vanilla because he liked them, and, anytime he smells Mexican vanilla, he is transported into his grandmother’s kitchen.

D. The pastor talked about God meeting people amidst disaster. After the Columbine massacre, it was “Good Shepherd” Sunday at the Lutheran church that he pastored. After 9/11, there was a cross amidst the rubble, which many took as a sign. When Lutheran churches burned down in fires, the cross still stood. This is a testimony that God meets people amidst disaster, which is what the cross itself is about.

E. On “D.”, the pastor seemed to imply that God arranged for Good Shepherd Sunday to follow Columbine, even though he did not want to say that God caused Columbine. God was working providentially to meet people in the midst of disaster. The pastor does not believe that God causes disasters but meets people in the midst of them. Indeed, saying that God caused Columbine then comforted people is a troubling idea: it is like running a person over and then taking him to the emergency room. Some may argue, though, that God permitted Columbine to provide an opportunity for people to turn their attention to God, which is important in its own right. But I doubt that God decided to schedule Good Shepherd Sunday in response to when he foresaw that the Columbine massacre would occur. That is quite a bit of micromanaging. Yet, I can understand people looking at that and concluding that what happened is more than a coincidence.

F. A convicting item from the liturgy: “When others need mercy and kindness, we often fail to acknowledge or fulfill their earnest needs.”

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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