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“Do this in remembrance of me”
April 6, 2023
Maundy Thursday is for me one of the most profound moments in the Christian calendar. It is, for me, a time to reclaim my commitment to Christ, to remember the passion of that final meal and how important it is to remember and relive that meal with other believers year after year.
A year ago (liturgically speaking) on Maundy Thursday I was in the foothills of the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and I was not with a church community. I was taking a Wilderness First Responder class with 20 other people, none of whom I knew, it was Maundy Thursday, and I was alone. This was the first time in my memory that I was alone on this significant day in the Christian calendar, and my heart was heavy. At the beginning of the week I knew that I wanted to do something to mark the day, and was planning on being by myself for a couple of hours for prayer and reflection. It would be better than nothing. Yet on Tuesday, I was walking on the campus, enjoying the views of the mountains, and I noticed one of the participants singing and swaying and praying. After talking to him I found out that he was a devout Jew with a deep sense of the mystical and an awareness of the Divine. In the spur of the moment, without thinking, I invited him to join me for a Maundy Thursday observance and he accepted the invitation.
That Thursday evening, after supper, after our classes were over, he and I walked towards an overhang that was a distance from the buildings where we were staying. We found our way up a ridge that overlooked the campus and found a bench. I then shared some of the history of the day, why it is important to Christians, and more why it is important to me. I taught him some songs that we sang (Let us Break Bread Together and Sanctuary), I read the Bible story from Luke, and then we shared bread and juice (alcohol was not allowed on the campus). He told me about the importance of a common meal in his family and his tradition, making the obvious connection to the Seder meal (Passover was starting a few days later). I shared that for me the evening was more than just a meal, but remembering of why it is I am a Christian and who Christ is for me. I told him that for me Jesus was someone who shows a profound and overwhelming love that is encapsulated in his words at the meal. We prayed, sang, and then returned to the rest of the group, knowing that we had shared a holy and sacred moment.
A year later, I realized what a gift that moment was for me. I was separated from the trappings of the institution, I was removed from my community, and I was sitting with a devout Jew trying to remember why it is that I am a Christian. I realized that what made that evening special for me was that I was not alone. It took a Jew to remind me that I am not alone but am part of a community and a tradition that gathers around God’s holy and inviting table. In my Jewish friend I was reminded of the presence of Jesus in the world.
This year I am looking forward to the evening service at St. Luke’s. I am looking forward to hearing and sharing the story of the Last Supper again. I am looking forward to being with a community of believers remembering and embracing their faith. But I will be thinking of and remembering my Jewish friend. God reached me through him. God brought me into a community through him. It will lead me to wonder and muse where else I can find a community, a people to share bread and song with. And to wonder where else I can find Christ.
On this Maundy Thursday, may we all find Christ in the most unexpected people and places.