We church folks sometimes get confused about what is the nature of the church. Just today I was reading about a person who said something to the effect that she would begin “attending church again when it was more entertaining.” Frankly, this is offensive to those who have given their lives for the mission of Jesus Christ lived out through the ministry of the church. It is offensive to the martyrs of the faith who have either spilled their blood or devoted their lives to advance of the good news. Perhaps people do need to be entertained. But most of us have been so sensory-bombarded by music and visual stimulation that many people simply can’t take any more. Bluntly, I think there needs to be at least one place in our world where people can go to think and pray without a lot of distraction, commotion, and noise. Surely we already have enough of that! So what is the function and purpose of the church? One is to come and listen and hear the voice of God—and one holy day is called Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday.
Next week, during Holy Week, we will observe Maundy Thursday. It is the day and night when we remember Jesus and the Last Supper he ate with his disciples before he was betrayed, denied, and crucified. People sometimes wonder why we call this day “Maundy Thursday.” The word we translate as “Maundy” is a Latin word from which we get our word “mandate” or “command.” At the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus gave a command that, just as he had washed the disciples’ feet so they should also serve others by washing their feet.
So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (John 13:14-15).Jesus also says at the Last Supper:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).
On Maundy Thursday we remember that Jesus gave us a “mandate” or “command” to “love one another just as he has first loved us.” Just as Jesus humbled himself and washed the Disciples’ feet, we too are to offer ourselves in humble service to on another. So on this coming Thursday—Maundy Thursday—we invite you to come and live under the mandate of Jesus.