Chalice and Towel

Maundy Thursday A’20

9 April 2020

Ex.12.1-4; Ps.116; I Cor; Jn. 13

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church “Live” on Facebook 

The Rev. Carey Stone

Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. - From John 13.1

Every fall and spring, my neighborhood association invites all of the residents to participate collectively, in a rummage sale. People come from miles around and they come hoping to find something that’s worth keeping. From start to finish it’s quite a process. For us it always starts with taking inventory of what we intend to keep and use, and what we want to sell – laborious!  During the sale, when there’s a lull we might venture across the street to peruse the neighbors cast off clothing and the many and totally unrelated objects sitting atop folding tables. Every now and again you stumble across a treasure, like a rare book, or nick knack exactly like the one that used to sit on your grandmother’s bathroom shelf – priceless!

Noted author and speaker, the late Phyllis Tickle wrote about what she referred to as “God’s rummage sale.”[1] In her review of Church history she found that about every 5oo years there was a major shift in the Church where it got rid of religious forms and practices that were no longer working, or life-giving. There was the emperor Constantine, who after several hundred years legalized the Christian faith, this was followed about 500 years later by the Great schism where the Church split into separate parts forming and eastern church, and a western church. After another 500 years there was this little event called the Reformation. There were huge “rummage sales” at each one of these points in the Church’s history. Well guess what, it’s been about 500 years since the reformation, and we are in the midst of a huge rummage sale, another major shift. I won’t bore you with the statistics but we all know the overall trend is that all of the numbers are down across the country and in many other parts of the west, signaling an exodus from organized religion. Ghandi, the great advocate for freedom, and human rights never made it into the Church, and he gave his reason why: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I think he was on to something, 21st century folk aren’t going to tolerate business as usual, there are way too many people who are going hungry, there are way too many people who are spiritually hungry, but don’t know where to turn, they are searching for something of substance, something real, something that has the power to transform the way people live on Monday mornings and on Saturday nights. 

If any of what I am saying resonates with you or even makes you curious, tonight is a good time for you to be tuning in. Tonight, we recall that first Holy Eucharist, the Last supper, the Lord’s Supper. Here we see the Christ in action. On that Thursday night 2,000 years ago, they were in the midst of a rummage sale, a cataclysmic shift was taking place. Christ was about to fulfill his ultimate purpose in the saving of the World from hell, death, and destruction.He knew he was about to die physically and go to be with the Father. So, he does what is often the case with a dying person, they want to leave some good words behind, words that will bless and instruct. There are also money and possessions that are bequeathed to those being left behind. That’s what Jesus did too, he lifted ordinary bread and a chalice of wine at a Passover celebration but words came out of his mouth that totally shifted the meaning of these objects and they became his body and blood, spiritual food, and drink for the long spiritual journey ahead – substance! The chalice filled with wine and the unleavened bread at every subsequent Eucharist has continued to transform the lives of millions throughout history.

Quotes about Holy Communion

Mother Teresa

“Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration.”

Cyril of Alexandria

“As two pieces of wax fused together make one so they who receive Holy Communion are so united with Christ that Christ is in them and they are in Christ.”

Cyprian

“This supernatural bread and this consecrated chalice are for the health and salvation of mankind.”

Peter Julian Eymard

“When we work hard, we must eat well. What a joy, that you can receive Holy Communion often! It's our life and support in this life - Receive Communion often, and Jesus will change you into himself.”

Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy

“It is not an escape from the world, rather it is the arrival at a vantage point from which we can see more deeply into the reality of the world.” 

Lenny Duncan, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US “You showed me that my past didn't make me unworthy to receive the nearness of God in the elements. I could stand before the table of grace a whole person -- deeply flawed and still incredibly valued, hand-made by a loving God” 

On that Thursday night so long ago, Jesus gave us two other things, he gave us the example of his humble service by washing the disciples feet. He fully embodied what he taught and gave us an indelible image of him on his knees serving. The stole worn by clergy gives another symbol of the towel that was used to dry his followers feet.

Lastly he gave us a new commandment, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

In these days of social distancing, may the absence from the HOLY Eucharist and from EACH another, stir a deep UP a deep hunger for both!

In the midst of the spiritual rummage sale of the 21st century we find ourselves in, let’s not forget some things that are definitely worth keeping, the chalice, the towel, and the New commandment!

Blessed are those, who are called to the supper of the Lamb. Amen.



[1] Tickle, Phyllis, The Great Emergence

 

Contact

4106 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
North Little Rock, AR 72116

Map

Phone: (501) 753-4281
Fax: (501) 753-4322

Email: stlukesnlr@gmail.com

Check us out on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/St-Lukes-Episcopal-Church-North-Little-Rock

 
More Contact Info