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The Paschal Triduum: Maundy Thursday March 29, 2018 - The Rev. Samuel Torvend
Sermon for Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. Psalm 116:11
I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took a loaf of bread and then took a cup of wine 1 Corinthians 11:23, 25
Take, eat: this is my Body. Drink this, all of you: this is my Blood The Book of Common Prayer 362
Was ever another command in the history of the world so clearly obeyed as this one: Take, eat; take and drink? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this eating and drinking has been done in every conceivable human circumstance and for every conceivable human need: from infancy and before it, to extreme old age and after it; from the grandeur of cathedrals to the fox hole amid the terror of war to the favelas and shanty towns that mark the earth. Women and men have found no better thing than this to do for the infant newly-born; for the couple uniting in the bonds of marriage; at the death of one’s beloved friend, spouse, child, or parent. The strong have found themselves humbled by the self-giving love of the monarch who wears no crown and directs no army; the weak and fearful discover their fragile souls nourished and strengthened by One who says, “Fear not, I am with you.”
Women and men have no found no better thing than this to do in the midst of famine or war; at the death of a slain president or princess; in the settlement of a strike as workers receive the Body and Blood of the carpenter from Nazareth; in the prisoner of war camp among the wounded and the tortured; upon hearing the passage of a law that benefits the downtrodden; with those in the closed and hidden room who must keep this feast in secret for fear of persecution: Christ hidden in the fragment of bread and the sip of wine.
Women and men have no found better thing than this to do in memory of the martyrs – in memory of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem and the hundreds of school children slain in this land; in memory of Peter and Paul, Stephen and Perpetua, Justin and Agnes, of Thomas Becket and Thomas More and the many among us who cherish their union with the Prince of Peace more than their nation, tribe, or race; of Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero, and all those whose love for God’s holy justice has been and continues to be sealed with the shedding of their blood.  Was ever a command in the history of the world so clearly and gratefully obeyed as this one: Take, eat; take and drink?
Women and men have no found no better thing than this to do as the summer breeze floats through the window; as winter rain and cold herald the land’s death; as Spring marks the increase of the homeless seeking food and shelter; as people of good will, midst Summer’s heat, break bread and share cup with those who live on the streets in this wealthiest of nations; as the monks and nuns of every monastery throughout the Christian world receive each guest as Christ himself and thereupon offer them the most precious Body and Blood of the One who wandered from village to village, proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom with shared food and drink; as the mother, the father, holds open the hands of their child so that he, so that she, might receive the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation; as the bishop in his cathedral ignored the fear and scorn of his parishioners and drank deeply from the chalice shared with gay men who were searching for nothing but the love of Christ; as the priest traced the wine, the medicine of immortality, on the lips of the man, the woman, the teenager dying of AIDS, of cancer, of loneliness.
Week by week, and month by month, on the most ordinary day of the year and on this most Holy Thursday, on a hundred thousand Sundays, faithfully and unfailingly across all the parishes of the world, and in this church named for the Anointed One, the Christ, the people and their priests continue to gather at his feast so that he might make you and me the holy people of God and send you and me into this troubled world as a blessing – as living food and drink for those who search for the compassion and justice this world cannot give itself: a blessing and not a curse.