As we prepare to join in worship with members of the Marshfield United Methodist Church this evening, I find myself excited by this annual opportunity to join in worship with a larger portion of the community. I truly enjoy all of the special services throughout the year, but these times of joint worship during Holy Week are particularly special. So, I started to wonder, “Why is that?”
I think I like the special services because it is an opportunity for the holy to break into our routine. Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is almost an oxymoron in some sense. We are accustomed to worship services on Wednesdays, think Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent. And we are certainly accustomed to worship on Sunday, although Easter does have a particularly special atmosphere. But, a worship service on Thursday?
Thursday is just another day of the week, right? One day closer to Friday and the weekend. Just over the hump of Wednesday, Thursday is only rivaled in its ordinary-ness by Tuesday. (Actually Tuesday is probably even more ordinary as it doesn’t get a special worship service, ever!) So it is special that something holy breaks into the midst of our ordinary. And, I think it is particularly poignant that the reminder of the holy in the everyday is the celebration of the Last Supper.
Jesus gathered his disciples for a meal, something they had done countless times before. True, there is the tradition that this was a Passover meal which adds some significance to the event. But, Jesus would likely have celebrated many of the festivals, including Passover, with the disciples over the past few years. So, this was a fairly ordinary gathering, at least on the outside.
Little did the disciples know the importance of what they were about to experience. God’s message of salvation, of forgiveness, was about to break forth before their eyes. And what is remarkable to me is that the disciples don’t realize what is happening. They miss out on God’s presence. For them it is just like any other passover meal.
I find that comforting, or maybe the word is reassuring… Whatever the appropriate word, it helps me to know that I am not alone in missing God’s presence in the ordinary things of life. I’m not the only one who needs to be periodically awakened from a zombiesque trance and alerted to God’s transformative work in the world.
That is, for me, part of the joy of Maundy Thursday. It is a reminder of God’s loving presence in each and every day of our lives. Although I may not see it, God is working in the world to bring about wholeness and healing. Today is a good reminder to open our eyes, our ears, our minds, and our hearts so we might experience and appreciate the all-too-often unseen work of God.