We live in a day of chaos. Paul never intended for the Christian to live in this way. For Paul, thanksgiving was central to the Christian expectation. Thanksgiving arranged the world in an orderly fashion. The good life was a life of gratitude. And such opportunity for thanksgiving is given to us in this meal. As Irenaeus once wrote: “where the Church is, there is the Holy Spirit and the fullness of grace.” In this gathering, we taste of the fullness of grace as we commune with one another and give thanks to the God from whom all blessings flow.
- Quoted in The Eucharist by Alexader Schmemann, 10. (back)
What we experience in this pluralistic culture is the death of objectivity. But in a world created by God and glorified by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, we can say that this food is for us in an objective way; in a way that truly does accomplish its purpose. What does this meal do? It gives grace to those who eat and drink by faith, it encourages the broken-hearted, it offers hope to the doubter, and it strengthens the saint.
This is the objective reality given to us by an objective Christ; the only true Lord of history and the one who always provides for his children.
Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin Mandatum. The word comes from Jesus’ command on the Last Supper to love one another just as He loved them (Lk. 24). The message of love is very much central to the Gospel message. Evangelicals are all too quick to set the topic of love aside because it draws our attention away from the more important doctrinal disputes and discussions. Yet Paul and our blessed Lord keep bringing us back to this theme of love. God is love. No, love is not God, but it is very much a foundational aspect of all His actions toward us in Christ Jesus.
Maundy Thursday then becomes a special historical reminder that we are called to be a people of love. Paul refers to the useless instruments in his I Corinthians 13. If love is absent, our actions become like those clanging cymbals. The very core of Paul’s love narrative in I Corinthians occurs in the midst of a dying Church. Paul’s application then is an ecclesiastical command. In the same manner our blessed Lord on the night in which he was betrayed– by that unclean man called Judas– called us to a greater ethic. It was not an ethic foreign to our Lord. What Jesus commands is first and foremost something he has experienced and displayed already. To a greater and cosmic extent, our Lord proves that love in a cross of hate. But this is love personified in the God/Man. By sacrificing Himself on that cruel tree He turned the symbol of hate into one of the most beloved symbols in the Christian life.
It is then very appropriate that our Lord would command us to love as a response to the Last Supper. This is the case because in the Supper we are being re-oriented in our affections for one another. The Supper is a meal of love and Jesus would transform that meal in His resurrection. He would glorify love for His new disciples. He would become Himself the manna from heaven that would bring joy to this newly created community.
Love is most clearly displayed and obeyed in this new fellowship of disciples we call the Church. This is why Maundy Thursday was a significant historical event. It was not just a didactic lesson for the disciples, it was also a meal that sealed the theme of love for this new community that would emerge from the darkness of the tomb.
The stone given for the sake of the world was despised and rejected. But that stone is that without which nothing can be built: no kingdom, no priesthood, and no life. Jesus is the true stone. He is the foundation of every lasting temple. We, as new temples, created in Christ Jesus, dare not reject this stone. Christ is the foundational piece of our lives. Without His sustaining us, we would be broken into pieces.
Indeed, we were at one time broken, but Christ has put us back together again; He has re-structured our spiritual anatomy and made us whole to partake of this meal.
The topic of food is one that comes up quite often in this season of Lent. Providence Church believes fasting is biblical, but we have not issued a fast for the Church. So we have not approved any any practice over another. Individual practices or the lack thereof are left to the discretion of the individual family during the week. Rather, as a Church, we focus on the worship observance of Lent in preaching, singing, and colors. We don’t want any Lenten food factions; no eating of a particular brand or a particular type of food will give you any greater special grace in God’s sight. Similarly, no giving up of a particular food or habit will get you closer to God unless it is grounded in the act of repentance and good works towards God and man.
In this Lenten Season I want you to remember that “Christians have only one food law: Take, eat; this is my body. Only one food unites us, the bread and wine of the Lord’s table.”
We can have all the diversity on our nutritional choices, but at this table there should be no division or doubt that this is God’s food for us.
 Leithart, http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/02/24/exhortation-128/