Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Notes for Maundy Thursday Service Message based on John 13:1-17; 31b-35; “B”–Maundy Thursday

Scriptures for Maundy Thursday are: Exodus 12:1-4, 5-10, 11-14; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17; 31b-35

Liturgical Color: Purple or Red


When I was taking Clinical Pastoral Education classes and when I was working as a chaplain, I had to deal with people’s reactions to terrible news. It was emotionally draining to be a calm presence in order to help my patients process the news and to handle what was happening in their lives. It was emotionally draining to acknowledge my patients’ frustrations, fears, anger, hopelessness, disbelief and even acceptance of the situations.

I spent a lot of time listening to people as they talked about relationships they hoped to fix and the final plans they were going to make. I listened to my patients’ trying to make sense of the lives that they had lived and watched them search for meaningful ways to live out their last days.

Almost every person I listened to wondered whether they would be remembered, and how.


The reason I tell you this today is because that is where we see Jesus in today’s reading. “Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 20:1 NIV).

Quite often I hear something like, “God sent Jesus to die on the Cross.” Working as a chaplain I came to realize that when we say that, we distance ourselves from the humanity of Jesus because we are not comfortable with God who came to be one of us. We simplify God in order to wrap our brains around God’s love for us. We prefer Jesus who came as God’s pawn, Jesus who does not make his own decisions and exercise his own free will. That allows us to hide behind our actions and inactions and pretend that we ourselves do not have free will to follow God’s guidance unless that free will fits into our plans, of course.


The human side of Jesus had to wonder whether it made any difference that he came to live among us. The human side of Jesus had to wonder whether and how he would be remembered. The human side of Jesus had to wonder whether all the teachings, healings, and time spent together made any sense to his disciples. Would they be willing to reinvent themselves and continue the work that he started after he left?

That is why, with a little over twelve hours left, Jesus and his disciples separated from the crowds and gathered together in the Upper Room. It was there that Jesus gave new meaning to the Passover Seder – we call it the Sacrament of the Holy Communion; “this is my body, take and eat”; “this is my blood, take and drink.”


It was there, with a little over twelve hours left, that Jesus washed the Disciples’ feet.

It is a humbling experience having our feet or hands washed by someone else. It gives us a sense of caring for each other; it reinforces the idea of belonging to each other; it helps us to comprehend that we are in mutual service to each other. It helps us to recognize that life is something that we do together. Just like the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, hand-washing is a reminder that when we make wrong choices, God’s grace is still with us and we are the instruments of that Grace, we are reminded that life goes on and it is our task to learn from our experiences, to pick ourselves up once in a while, help our community to wash each other’s hands, and to become better persons and better communities in the process.


As we wind down today’s service, I want to make another point. Today is called Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” originated from the Latin word “Mandatum” that is used in John 13:34 which reads, “A new commandment [A new mandate] I give to you; love one another as I have loved you.”

Because of that verse, I am convinced that God did not just send Jesus to die; God sent Jesus to demonstrate love. Jesus showed the world a different way to love and a different way to live. Those in authority were threatened, and in order to maintain the status quo they put Jesus to death. The road to the Cross is the mechanism, the chain of events that God employed to atone for our uncircumcised hearts and our lukewarm actions as we attempt to live our lives in the midst of God’s creation.

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Allow me to explain implications of all that. Do you know anybody, or did you ever say something like, “I wonder what is God’s will for my life?” When we say that, we distance ourselves from that new commandment because it justifies our actions and inactions by assuming that if something is not in God’s will for our lives, God would not allow that (whatever “that” is) to happen.


Recently (March 29, 2012 to be exact), Greg Carey, the New Testament professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary, suggested in a facebook discussion that God does not have a will for our lives. Instead, Greg suggested that God wills to be in our lives and God wills to be, [God wills to work, and God wills to be a blessing] through our lives.

Today is about God wanting to be in our lives and inviting us to allow God to work through our lives. Today is about continuing the mission that Jesus started and that Jesus trusted to our care. Today is about the life that we live as a community. Life is something that we do together. Today is about our connection to each other and about our belonging to God. In order to help each other to remember the events of that fateful night, today we will celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, and we have a hand washing station set-up.

{Transition into the Sacrament of the Holy Communion and Hand Washing}


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