Sermon for Maundy Thursday

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:24
"Do this in memory of me."

We remember

I wonder how many times we say in a lifetime, "I remember when". The older we get, the more often we say those words, often as we reflect on some occasion either happy or sad that has become firmly implanted in our memory.

I remember the fun camping trips we had as our children were growing up. All 6 of us in a tent, the rowdy card games at night, the storms that tested the strength of our tent and our courage, everyone helping cooking, washing up, the older kids looking after the younger ones, going for a day trip, taking a wrong turn and ending up eating our picnic lunch in a paddock surrounded by cow pads. Those were happy memories and then there are the sad ones like the unexpected death of a toddler or a relationship that could never be restored.

When we get together with family and friends often sentences that begin with "Do you remember when" bring back memories, some of which we had momentarily forgotten, and we enjoy reliving that moment as we talk about it, especially if it’s a happy memory.

Tonight we begin the journey from the Upper Room where Jesus had his last meal with his disciples - a journey that will take us to the hill outside Jerusalem, then to the grave where Jesus’ body was laid to rest and on Easter Day was found to be empty. Through the hymns and songs, the reading of the passion story and the re-enactment of the key events, we will recall with sadness and at the same time with joy, what happened to Jesus and the peace, forgiveness and confidence that he has given to us in the face of sin and death.

Jesus was involved in an act of remembering when he ate with his disciples on the first Maundy Thursday. They were celebrating the Passover and remembered how God had saved his people through the blood of a lamb. They remembered how the pharaoh of Egypt had refused to let the people go free and so God sent the angel of death to convince the pharaoh that the God of Israel was not one to be disobeyed. Every house that had the blood of a lamb painted on the doorposts was saved from death; those who did not heed Moses’ instructions, including the Egyptians, paid the price. As Jesus and his disciples ate this special meal they remembered how God had saved their forefathers from slavery and death.

Tonight we are beginning our own act of remembrance. We remember how Jesus took bread and wine and said, "This is my body … this is my blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins". And every time we celebrate Holy Communion we remember the agony Jesus suffered just for us as we receive once again the real body and blood of Jesus that restores our relationship with our heavenly Father and breaks down the walls that our sin creates between us and God and others.

Tomorrow as we reflect on the events of Good Friday we will do so with solemnity and gratitude that Jesus’ love for us was so intense that he was ready to make the supreme sacrifice of his own life. Our sin will no longer condemn us as it is taken from us and placed on his shoulders on the cross and in return we received the goodness and purity of Jesus. Our sins are forgiven and death will no longer have the power to harm or destroy us.

On Sunday Christians around the world will repeat those joyous and unbelievable words, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" He is no longer in the grave. Jesus is alive. Nothing not even death can hold him down. He has defeated the greatest threat to our existence and made it possible for every person on this planet to enjoy eternal life in heaven - the kind of life that God had intended for us when he created the first people and placed them in the garden where there was nothing but joy and peace.

We remember. This is more than an exercise of brain cells as we recall and remember. This is more than celebrating happy memories as we do when memorable times are recalled with our family and friends. This is more than being thankful for such memories.

We remember and we believe and we are changed.

Over the next few days we remember and we give thanks to God for all that he has done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God bless us as we remember and we believe and we are changed.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
1st April 2010

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