Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Friday, April 10, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Sermon

 
Be a Faithful Disciple 
 

 April 9, 2020
Maundy Thursday Home Worship Service
"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done."

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, your Anointed One, on the night before he suffered, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood. Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life. AMEN

Litany - Joining the Night of Love 

We join a solemn journey of three days that has changed the world and our own lives. Followers of Jesus have been taking this journey since his first followers took it, long ago. 

This is the night of love. 

On this night Jesus took a towel and basin, and washed his disciples' feet. On this night he told them to do the same for others to show their love for him and for one another. 

This is the night of love. 

On this night, followers of Jesus have invited those preparing for baptism to begin with a solemn vigil of prayer and fasting until the day of Christ's resurrection is fulfilled. 

This is the night of love. 

On this night, Jesus broke bread and shared wine with his followers for the last time, and invited them to remember him, to encounter him anew, whenever they did the same.

This is the night of love. 

On this night, followers of Jesus have welcomed those who have returned to the way of Jesus after a time of wandering and a journey of returning. This is the night of love. 

This is the night of love. 

And so, on this night, we welcome the penitent - all here have wandered- and invite all preparing - all here are still learning - to join us in hearing and obeying the commandment of our Master and to feast at his table, that we may love one another as he has loved us.

Come, ye sinners; Come, ye thirsty; Come, ye weary; Come to the night of love.  

Scripture Reading: John 13:1-7, 12-16, 34-35

Message

Today is called "Maundy Thursday" or "Holy Thursday." We've said "Maundy Thursday" a lot, but many of us don't know the meaning of the name. The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for "command." So, the "Maundy" in "Maundy Thursday" refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper. Do you remember what the command was? Let us read verses 34-35 again together, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Yes, Jesus gives a new command to love and serve one another. 

To be honest, we all know this commandment that Jesus gave us even though it is hard to follow well. Some may think that during this Lent and Holy Week it is a little harder to follow this commandment, love one another, because we need to stay at home and keep social distance in order to protect our community from the spread of the virus. As a special Lenten spiritual practice, we have done "the Random Act of Kindness," but I know it can be a little challenge to do that while staying at home. However, I don't think we are failing to love one another in this time of keeping distances. Because keeping social distance and staying at home is the way that we love and care for others in these circumstances. There are many ways that we love others, and we are doing what we can do as the circumstances and context allow.  

In an email from Rev. Judie Flessner, our District Superintendent, she shared a quote from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, a Modern Orthodox rabbi in Los Angeles. He wrote the other day: "Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise." 

Even though we can't hug others physically, we are called to check on and pray for them in our hearts. When I called you, I heard the same thing so many times, "Oh, someone else also called to check on me" or "I also talk with this person and he/she is doing like this." I know you keep in touch with each other via phone, email, or SNS while keeping social distances. You are doing great job! Keep going! 

But, I would like to add a little more to this task. As we go through the Holy Week, where we think about and focus on Jesus' love, the time of keeping social distances continues to get longer. Along with the wonderful work you're already doing to care for those close to your hearts, perhaps make a phone call to someone you do not contact often but know is lonely, or someone whom you don't like much even though you know you should love and forgive him/her. Remember Jesus' commandment - love one another in this night of love. 

Also, there is another thing I want to talk with you about tonight in today's passage - Jesus' last supper. In the hours before Jesus would be arrested, Jesus had his last meal with his disciples who were his intimate followers, but we know and Jesus knew that these same people would betray him, deny him, and desert him. However, Jesus had his last supper with them, gave them a message of what he would do and its meaning, washed their feet, and prayed for them. They were not perfect, but Jesus invited them, and us, to his last supper because he loves us. 

In the Lenten Bible study, we discussed this question, "If you were sitting down to what you knew to be your last meal, whom would you want sitting around the table with you?" Of course, you want to have time with those you love - family and friends. One of the members of the Bible study answered, "I want to invite my pastor. Can you come?" I was really honored to be invited. In the same way, imagine how you would feel to be invited to Jesus' supper, because you ARE invited to the communion. Jesus invites us. It is not because we are perfect or pure but Jesus loves us. 

We miss communion this Maundy Thursday, but I hope you have time to think about its meaning more deeply in your hearts. Even though we can't partake in the communion together physically, Jesus' loving invitation is always valid and Jesus' salvation is within our lives every moment as we remember his love, his grace, and his sacrifice for us. This love story is for you. Jesus, the lamb of God, is our Savior and Lord.

Yes, this is the night of love. Jesus commands us "to love" each other. Jesus shows how to "love others" humbly by washing his disciple's feet. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be sent for his beloved disciples, Jesus prayed for all his disciples and believers whom he loves, and Jesus was arrested to die on the cross because he loves us so much. Yes, this is the night of love. 

Do you feel the amazing and immeasurable love of Jesus Christ? Feel this love, because it is for you! 

Let us pray, 

O loving God, thank you for your son Jesus Christ, who is love and our savior. Help us remember your new commandment - to love one another and remember your loving invitation in our lives. O Lord, help us remember your love that you showed and taught us though your life, so that everyone would know that we are your disciples by our loves. AMEN

Closing Prayer

You are holy, O God!You are worthy, O Christ
Worthy in your loving! Worthy in your serving!
Worthy the night you took a towel and basin,washed your disciples' feet,and taught them to do likewise.

Worthy too, the same night we betrayed you,when you took the bread, blessed it and broke it,and gave it to your disciples.Worthy when you told them,"This is my body broken for you. Remember me."We remember.

Worthy when you took the cup,praised God and shared it,and worthy when you said,
"This is my blood of the new covenant for you. Remember me." We remember. 
O Lord, We are yours, all yours, blessed Triune God, all our lives, all our thanks, all our praise,all our fears, all our grumbling, all our hesitations, all our loves, all our joys, all our passions,we give them all to you, with bodies, and minds and voices.

Yours, all yours! AMEN