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Eucharist And Mission Benediction

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Happy Friday friends!

Some of you may have noticed that our resident writer, Kellye Fabian, was thoughtfully penciling down thoughts during our teaching each week of our Eucharist And Mission series. That was because Kellye was beautifully building her benediction wording each week to reflect each step of our Eucharist and Mission journey.

Well, the series may be over, but the impact of those parting words certainly isn’t! For your viewing pleasure, we have created this visual of Kellye’s benediction that you can see below, or download and print at home for free by clicking right here.

Eucharist And Mission Benediction2

 

 

 

 

Practice Resources: Broken Open for Peace

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This past Sunday, beloved guest speaker Lynne Hybels shared her powerful journey to becoming broken open for the sake of peace. You can read all about it and listen to her message here.

Remember, Sunday is not the main event. Monday through Saturday, living and practicing these truths in our daily lives is the invitation we hope you feel led to lean into the most. With that in mind, here are a few Practice recommended resources to aid you along the way as you unpack what it means to be a contemplative activist in your life and how to be broken open for peace like Christ.

Happy reading friends,

Grace and peace to you,
Jenna and The Practice Team

Resources

A great place to start when unpacking our journey of being broken open for peace from last Sunday, is with the many wonderful resources that Lynne herself has provided on her passion for peacekeeping.

 

  • Be sure to check out Lynne’s wonderful blog for original writing and insight into her advocacy and journey of being a contemplative activist for peace.

This book explores and unpacks the message Lynne shared with us further as she shares her story of coming to know her true self in God.

“Nice Girls are taught early that serving God means earning God’s love and sacrificing oneself to meet the needs of others. Unfortunately, after living a life she thought was what God demanded, her husband wanted, her kids needed, and her church expected, Lynne Hybels felt utterly lost―both to herself and to God. In this wise and tender book, Hybels tells of her struggle to stop living someone else’s life and to reclaim the unique gifts, strengths, and passions God gave her. And she reveals how turning away from her false view of God as a harsh and demanding taskmaster enabled her to rest at last in God’s sustaining love. As she explains, it’s never too late to discover that who you really are is exactly what delights God and what the world needs.”

Created in honor of Mother’s Day, God our Mother is a liturgy that explores both the scriptures that speak of God in a maternal context and the limits of human language in describing an infinite God.

We sang a beautiful song during our worship last Sunday called, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” This is part of a project created by The Liturgists featuring our good friends The Brilliance.

We have two book recommendations surrounding Israeli-Palestinian peacekeeping for you in light of Lynne’s challenge to follow Christ into brokenness to find transformation. May these words take you deeper into your own personal invitation to make peace, wherever that may be in your journey.

 

In Blood Brothers, Chacour blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the birth of modern Israel. He touches on controversial questions such as “What behind-the-scenes politics touched off the turmoil in the Middle East? “, “What does Bible prophecy really have to say? “, and “Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled? “

With all of the heat surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even the most basic facts can be hard to grasp. How do we make sense of what we read in the Bible―and what we read in the news? In this Skeptic’s Guide, Dale Hanson Bourke sheds light on the places, terms, history, and current issues shaping this important region. Offering an even-handed presentation of a range of views on the most controversial issues, she provides a framework for American Christians to use in understanding why the conflict occurred, why it continues―and what remains to be done.

Sunday Reflections, May 10, 2015

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Broken Open for Peace

The first word that comes to mind as I think about our gathering last night is “gift.” What a gift it was to immerse ourselves in the maternal images of God and spend time meditating on the ways our own mothers or other women in our lives have reflected this oft-unacknowledged aspect of God. I was reminded just how big and full and whole and present God is. I was especially moved by the communal reading we shared about God’s nurturing nature. Every line was drawn from Scripture and presented such expansive images of God: nurturing, powerful Protector; loving, comforting Caregiver; compassionate, patient Nurturer; and tender, Sustainer of life.

Then, with these images of God in mind, Lynne Hybels invited us into her beautiful story. I don’t know that I have ever asked God so specifically to walk me into my brokenness. It is a place I’d rather avoid. But last night that changed. As she shared, Lynne said, “every time I got honest and leaned into the brokenness inside of me, I found Jesus there. Finding that changed everything.” Lynne explained that as she spent time “just reading Jesus,” what she found first was the lover of her soul, not the demanding, tyrannical image of God she had grown up with and attempted to please all her life. What she found was the Jesus we see in Mark 14 who saw and affirmed the attentive, sensitive soul of the woman who broke open her alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured every drop over Jesus’ head.

Lynne also found a Jesus who said crazy, upside-down things, like “love your enemies.” She found a Jesus who calls us to compassionate action in the world. She found a Jesus who has called her into war zones, battlefields, and to broken bodies and hearts to be a peacemaker: “I believe Jesus walks into the places of the deepest brokenness in the world and He calls us to follow Him there.” Her own brokenness, she said, opened her to the brokenness in the world.

If opening my eyes to my own brokenness could lead me to Jesus, this lover of my soul, and would lead me to serve God and the world with the spirit and strength Lynne has demonstrated, then there is only one prayer I desire to pray: “God, I am willing. Open my eyes. Take me into the brokenness.”

Lynne left us with the following three questions to help us delve more deeply into this subject of being broken open for peace:

  • Is there a brokenness in your history, your life, your daily experience, that you need to acknowledge, face, lean into, so you can find Jesus there loving you? You cannot take the love of Jesus into the world unless you have received it into your own soul.
  • Is there a brokenness in the world that you sense Jesus is calling you to enter, to follow him into? Are you willing to name it? Are you willing to prayerfully ponder what it might look like for you to begin to enter that broken place?
  • Is there a member – or members – of the global family that you really wish weren’t part of the family? Are you willing to name that person or that group of people? Are you willing to prayerfully ponder how you might respect, love, and serve that member of the family?

It is the first one that scares me the most, and so I believe I need to start there. What about you?

May you, by leaning into and moving out from your own brokenness, follow Jesus, the lover of your soul, into the places of deepest brokenness in the world.

Grace and peace,

Kellye Fabian

 

You can listen to Lynne’s message here below or by subscribing to The Practice Podcast.

Practice Resources: Broken Open for Reconciliation

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This past Sunday, we took a powerful and transformative look at the table flipping practice of Jesus. We were invited to protest through examining what we are FOR. We pray that the resources below would aide you in the journey of protest, especially for those of you who experienced the stirring to be broken open for the sake of reconciliation.  May you this week take a step towards closing the gap between your desire and reality, and may we continue practicing together the rhythms of Eucharist as Mission.

Resources

An excellent place to explore more of what Austin Channing Brown shared with us, is through her blog which can be found below. Another fantastically helpful resource created by Austin is her guide to 8 Conversation Deflections and Responses. She specifically tackles common issues that are brought up in conversations about race and offers suggestions for loving Christian response.

For those who were with us this past Sunday, one of the highlights in response to receiving the Eucharist was to have Austin Channing Brown read the prayer of St. Francis to and over us. For a beautiful artistic rendering of the prayer in visual form, click here.
Finally, we wanted to suggest a few books that those of you who are wrestling with what protest might actually look like in your life. As Austin shared, protest is not simply about dramatic stands (though it certainly can be), but instead, true protest is lived in one’s day to day life. One of the most practical and tangible ways that each of us can be FOR things is in our conversations and so below are a few resources we’ve found to be helpful in being intentional in our daily conversations with people about the things that really matter.

  • Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland
    • Winner of a 2013 Leadership Journal Book Award (“Our Very Short List” in “The Leader’s Outer Life” category) 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards Honorable Mention Despite Jesus’ prayer that all Christians “be one,” divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present. We cluster in theological groups, gender groups, age groups, ethnic groups, educational and economic groups. We criticize freely those who disagree with us, don’t look like us, don’t act like us and don’t even like what we like. Though we may think we know why this happens, Christena Cleveland says we probably don’t. In this eye-opening book, learn the hidden reasons behind conflict and divisions.
  • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
    • The title is helpfully explanatory: We each need help to reexamine the conversations that fill our days and be encouraged in why and how they could matter. A must read especially for anyone who might struggle feeling that their protest is really known by others in their lives.
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
    • This final resource offers us tools for remaining intentional, even when conversations become tense or overwhelming. This book expands on the ideas presented by Austin Channing Brown in her guide mentioned above and helps you dive deeper into having meaningful conversations with your life.

Introducing Austin Channing Brown…

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When I think of Austin Channing Brown, it’s hard not to picture a passionate advocate. Over the past decade, Austin has been growing more and more into a prophetic voice for racial reconciliation, poverty and injustice within the world. She is a courageous collaborator with various Christian ministries to advance visions of racial reconciliation and socioeconomic understanding.

I’ve got to be honest with you, as someone who has ‘migrated’ to the USA from the UK – I had a lot of catching up to do when it came to racial reconciliation. The history was barely taught in my European school system, and as I found myself attending an urban college in downtown Chicago, I realized I had a lot to learn. And learn I did. My freshman year of college I poured myself into research, relationships and prayer to understand the extent of the injustice, sin and pain that had been caused both historically and presently. In a persuasion and debate class, I chose to speak on racial reconciliation for my final project due to the friendship and testimony of a wonderful woman and older student named Linda in my class. Her stories of abuse, racism and prejudice rattled my heart to its core and it was through the writing of John M. Perkins that I felt compelled, no commanded to care and give voice to reconciliation through the heart of the gospel. A white, Northern Irish girl, being broken open for racial reconciliation in the USA.

Why do I share all this?

I share it because, I’m sure that all of us have a story of the call to reconciliation in our lives. We are all invited to become broken open for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of reconciliation to God and to others. This is a messy, painful, and pride hurting conversation. It’s by no means an easy task – but it’s a necessary one, and I for one was immensely grateful to the prophetic voices who gave guidance, direction and hope in the midst of my being broken open.

These voices are so necessary. They are beacons of light to those of us who feel lost at sea in the waves of desperation, hopelessness or despair. They cry out in the wilderness and seek justice, reform, peace and reconciliation.

Austin Channing Brown is one of those voices.

I don’t know about you, but in light of our world right now, in light of Baltimore, Ferguson, Brooklyn, Ohio,  and every other news headline that’s been reported (and for every story that hasn’t), I am aching, yearning, crying out for wisdom. I feel so much and I desire guidance so deeply. This Sunday, Austin is joining us to talk about how the Eucharist breaks us open for reconciliation – and I could not think of a more relevant, important or needed message for our tribe or for our world.

Join us in the messy work of being broken open. Join us in the vision for reconciliation. With Austin as our guide, rest assured you are in revolutionary and kind hands.

Peace and grace to you,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Team

Practice Resources: Eucharist As Mission

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This past Sunday David Fitch made some crucial connections for our Eucharist and Mission Series. I’m still sitting in the ‘aha’ moment of understanding that the postures I practice to recognize Christ at The Eucharist table, are actually shaping me to recognize Christ at the other tables in my life. Talk about Eucharist and Mission! If you missed David’s talk, don’t forget to check out The Practice Podcast or read the article we handed out at the end of the night which you can find here.

Part of what I find so encouraging about this – is that we’ve already been practicing the Eucharist every week, which means I’m already being and have already started to be shaped to recognize Christ’s presence in my daily life and at my daily tables.

So, be encouraged friends, the unforced rhythms of grace and of Eucharist have been shaping and forming you. May you gently recognize the good work that has already begun in you!

As you practice and go about the rest of your week, here are a few recommended resources for you to explore and flesh out – signposts to help you navigate the journey God has you on.

Happy reading!

Peace to you,

Jenna & The Practice Team

 

 

Resources

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

It is impossible to talk about attending to Christ’s presence around the tables in our own lives without mentioning our very own Shauna Niequist and her incredible reflections on life around the table. This is so beautifully connected to the thoughts David Fitch unpacked with us and is a beautiful read that will encourage and inspire you to practice.

With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life by Henri Nouwen

In this profound and beautiful reflection Henri Nouwen seeks a new understanding of Eucharist through the story of the disciples on their way to Emmaus, their encounter with Jesus, and how their eyes and hearts were opened in the breaking of the bread. A marvelous meditation on the meaning of the sacrament.

Changing the World Through the Lord’s Supper by Tim Keller (Sermon)

Christ is spiritually present in the Lord’s Supper. This sacrament is a matchless resource for spiritual growth and the beginning of a new community. This talk was given during a leadership training session at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Welcome back, Jonathan Martin

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When Jonathan Martin was last invited to join us for our series on The Lord’s Prayer, Aaron was eager (and more than a little mischievous) to share that he was a Pentecostal Preacher who’d potentially be levitating in the pews if we crossed our fingers. I laughed along with the room, but having never met a real life Pentecostal Preacher,I held a deep curiosity about this exotic creature we were inviting into our midst.

I finally met the real Jonathan that night, and could not have predicted him if I had tried. A gentle giant (surely he is excellent at basketball?) towering over me, with the most melodic southern drawl and an incredible eloquence of speech that made me want to hear him phrase even the most mundane statements.

Most importantly however, was his pastoral presence. We’ve had many gifted guest speakers here at the Practice, but none have so clearly stood out to me as a true pastor and shepherd of people as Jonathan Martin. He spoke genuinely, humbly and kindly with every member of our tribe, both high in leadership and first time attendees. It is always a true joy for me in life to meet genuinely kind people with wicked personalities – and Jonathan fit that description like it was tailored for him. I don’t know if you’ve experience this, but sometimes pastors in their desire to be pastoral can unfortunately be patronizing, not so with Jonathan. He felt among us, one of us, a mere mortal just like us who was following God’s call to be a guy who writes and talks about God.

So if you’re uncertain about what you’re in for this Sunday, I encourage you to come with an open heart, come and be restored, for Jonathan is so refreshing. Did I forget to mention that his leading of the service was also the night I cried my heart out on my knees? He partnered with the Holy Spirit that night to hold space for us to break open and be remolded in God’s presence. A modern miracle of sorts.

This Sunday we’ve invited Jonathan to share on who is welcome at The Lord’s Table – and I feel completely at peace about what we’re in for, because Jonathan has earned my trust. I know he’ll be eloquent, intelligent and thoughtful, and he’ll lead us in practice and mediate the Spirit in his wonderful Pentecostal way.

So come and allow the Eucharist to break you open, I have a feeling that you’ll be held and protected as you hold your heart vulnerably – Oh, and fingers crossed, he still could levitate.

Blessings,

Jenna Perrine

 

 

Sunday Reflections, April 13, 2015

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A Theology of the Eucharist

Last night we launched our six-week Eucharist & Mission journey and I’m finding it a bit hard to put the experience into words.  None I can come up with is robust enough.  Words that come to mind, but are still lacking:  feast, banquet, heaven, and full. The Judson University choir supplied an energy and beauty that we felt inside our bodies and yet also understood to be well beyond us (especially the Lord’s Prayer song at the end!). Scot McKnight’s teaching was rich and thought-provoking, transporting us to Jesus’ last Passover meal, and then ushering us fully into the present, where we found ourselves in the Chapel taking Christ’s body and blood into our bodies.  You can listen to Scot’s full teaching below or by subscribing to our podcast.

Scot taught that the Eucharist is the center of Christian discipleship, but that we cannot understand it unless and until we understand Passover, which was fundamentally about liberation from slavery.  As we practice ingesting the bread and the wine, over time, we are transformed into Christlikeness. Such a profound mystery! What my mind has been turning over and over since last night is Scot’s teaching that Eucharist is “embodied remembrance.”

I have never heard this phrase, “embodied remembrance,” before and when I typed it into Google this morning, what came up was article after article about how injured bodies remember trauma. Well after the mind moves on, the body still remembers. I’ve become captured by the fact that Jesus didn’t give us words to memorize to remember him and his sacrifice. He didn’t give us song lyrics to sing. He didn’t ask us to remember with our minds or hearts or souls. He instructed us to remember with our bodies, knowing that our bodies would do so in a way our minds and hearts cannot. I can’t wait to learn more about this through the week.

What stood out the most to you? What do you want to learn more about as you reflect on Scot’s teaching?

This week, may our Lord Jesus Christ, who was broken open for the sake of the world, grant you peace. And may your body remember the gift of liberation given by and through Jesus, our Passover Lamb.

Kellye Fabian

You can now download and listen to Scot’s Message with The Practice Podcast

Stations of the Cross

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What is this practice? 

The Stations of the Cross, are typically 14 stations that prayerfully mark the path of the various scenes and sites of Jesus on Good Friday. Many Churches celebrate by setting up physical crosses in different locations and walking from one cross to another to mark the journey of Christ, whilst reading key biblical texts and prayers.

Where did it come from? 

You might be interested to know that back in AD 313 emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, causing many Christians to flock back to the Holy Land to visit the historic sites and homeland of Jesus – in particular to find solidarity with Christ by walking the journey of Christ through Holy Week.

Over the years, this practice became more and more prominent in the Church, with pilgrims desiring to stop prayerfully at all the sites associated with Good Friday. The practice of visiting the historic sites in the Holy Land became restricted around the twelfth century, when the land fell under Muslim rule. Saint Francis and followers then encouraged believers to walk through the same journey by creating replicas of the stations of the cross with your own church. This is the way in which many churches practice this today.

How can you practice?

Whether or not you are able to attend a stations of the cross service today, it is still helpful and meaningful to walk the path of Christ wherever you happen to be today. Below we have provided the 14 different stations along with key passages from scripture to help you trace the journey of Christ to His crucifixion.

This is a powerful practice that allows us to deeply contemplate the great mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for us. By moving through these texts we invite you to embrace the gift of Christ’s sacrifice in both your mind and heart. By walking from location to location to read, you may involve your body in the worship as well.

Good Friday is a sober, sorrowful day, but I am also overcome by the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice in a way that brings me to my knees in both grief and awe.

May you be moved and ministered to by the footsteps of Christ,

Jenna and The Practice Team

 

The Stations Of The Cross

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:36-41

Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him.

Mark 14:43-46

Jesus Is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71

Jesus Is Denied by Peter

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75

Jesus Is Judged by Pilate

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Mark 15:1-5, 15

Jesus Is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.

John 19: 1-3

Jesus Bears the Cross

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

John 19: 6, 15-17

Jesus Is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Mark 15:21

Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31

Jesus Is Crucified

 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

Luke 23:33-34

Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:25-27

Jesus Dies on the Cross

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46

Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Matthew 27:57-60

What is Maundy Thursday?

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Today is Maundy Thursday – the day in which we pass with Jesus into the darkness of his last night, a darkness that will tremble with evil forces – the betrayal of Judas, his arrest, the torture, the scourging, the mocking crowds and ultimately Christ’s death on the cross. Maundy Thursday is a difficult night, a dark night of the soul in which Jesus’ determination to reach the cross is juxtaposed with the powers of evil he must struggle against. We celebrate Maundy Thursday by remembering and walking the path with Christ.

What does Maundy mean?

The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin phrase Mandatum Novum, which means “a new commandment.” So when we talk about Maundy Thursday, we are referring to the Thursday before Easter Sunday, the day in which Christ instituted the new commandment of love by both word and by symbolic action.

How is it celebrated?

On this night, Jesus ate with his disciples, washed their feet, instituted the Last Supper, and was betrayed by Judas. Many churches throughout the world seek to commemorate this day by re enacting the journey of Jesus to show solidarity.

A Feast

On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus celebrated a Passover Meal with his disciples – Passover was an important time in the Jewish tradition in which a Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people.

So Maundy Thursday typically begins with a meal, for some this will be the last meal they eat until Easter Sunday to show solidarity with Christ, as this was the last meal that Jesus ate before his crucifixion and resurrection.

If not food, what is something that you might deny yourself in the build up to Easter Sunday to show solidarity with Christ?

This is normally a simple and quiet meal – there is no music, which typically emphasizes the gravity of the event that the church has gathered to recall and experience together.

Foot Washing

Following the theme of walking in Christ’s footsteps, many churches throughout the world today will also commemorate Maundy Thursday with a time of foot washing.

In Jesus day, foot washing was a task typically reserved for non-Jewish slaves, who would greet dusty footed guests by the door and wash their feet as an act of hospitality – this was normally done upon arrival, but Jesus washed his disciples feet during the meal.

Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as a final proof of his love for them, setting an example of humility and servant hood for his disciples and foreshadowing the washing away of sins through his death. It is powerful to realize that Jesus washed all of his disciples’ feet – including Judas.

Although it may seem awkward, the practice of washing one another’s feet still communicates a great deal of love and humility in our culture today. Is there anyone, friend or foe, who you could invite into this beautiful practice today?

Foot washing is a truly beautiful practice that communicates a powerful message – By following Christ’s model we are reversing the social order and recognizing his call for all people to see their lives as lives of servant hood. Many churches model this by having the Priests, Ministers and Pastors of the church lead by example and wash the congregants feet.

The Lord’s Supper

How amazing to realize in the midst of Holy Week, that it was on Maundy Thursday that Jesus first instituted the Lord’s Supper that we practice and love so dearly today. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body broken for you,” then he took the cup and shared, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:17-29)

On Maundy Thursday, churches celebrate by recalling the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This is typically a more sober Eucharist service than a usual Sunday, as it soberly reminds us of the connection made between bread, wine, and death. At this point with his disciples, Jesus had not yet been crucified or resurrected – so this time of communion is a deep, intense and sustained focus on the death of Christ, focusing primarily on the fact that this was the night that he was betrayed.

We don’t celebrate communion like this every week – normally the Lord’s Supper is a time of rejoicing in the light of the Resurrection! It may feel uncomfortable – but this is a time in the church calendar to focus on the death that comes before resurrection. How can you use this day to soberly remember how Jesus willingly gave his body and blood to be broken and shed for you?

The Solemn Stripping of the Table

The final act in a Maundy Thursday worship service, is the sober, silent, and solemn stripping of the communion table, which stands as a symbol of Jesus being stripped of His garments and clothing before his crucifixion.

The service typically ends on this note in silence, and the pastors and congregation leave quietly in silence to preserve the gravity and symbolism of all they have journeyed through together.

Maybe you aren’t watching the stripping of a communion table today, but in your mind’s eye can you visualize the table we gather around each Sunday, bare, stripped and empty. Take a moment of silence to reflect upon the preparation and humiliation Christ went through as he journeyed to the cross.

 

I hope this exploration of Maundy Thursday has been meaningful and insightful for you! Whether or not you are able to attend a Maundy Thursday Worship service this evening, may you find moments of unforced rhythms of grace to find solidarity with Christ this Holy Week. It can be so hard to sit in the mourning that comes before Easter Sunday, how bitter the sorrow but how much sweeter is the explosion of life on Easter Sunday when we submit ourselves to the journey of Christ!

 

May Christ be ever before you,

Jenna and The Practice Team