After two years of pandemic delays, Broadway has invited the Northern Illinois Covenant Churches to our Maundy Thursday service, April 14 at 7 p.m. It’s another sign that we are returning to familiar patterns of ministry, and I hope you will join us as we welcome brothers and sisters from local Covenant churches.
In the past, we have gathered on Maundy Thursday over a simple meal before celebrating Communion. This year, we will worship in the sanctuary, remembering Jesus’ final evening with the disciples through scripture readings and music. The service will culminate in the Communion meal, symbolizing Jesus’ sacrifice and the unity of believers around His table. It will be a blessing to worship together with people from our sister churches, especially as we share the meal that reminds us of our common faith in Christ.
Gathering on Maundy Thursday has been a tradition in Christian churches for centuries. It commemorates the last supper when Jesus gathered his disciples in the upper room. He washed their feet. He taught them about life in the Kingdom. He instructed them to share bread and cup in remembrance of Him. He told them that He would be betrayed and killed and then would rise again. He promised to send the Holy Spirit. He prayed for the disciples and for all who would come to faith through the church’s witness, including us all these years later.
The word Maundy is Latin (and Old French) for mandate or command and comes from Jesus giving the disciples a “new command” in John 13:34. The new command was to “love one another.” Of course, Jesus had spoken many times before about the importance of loving people. We are to love our neighbors and even to love our enemies. But that night Jesus told His followers that they must take special care to love each other in the church.
Loving one another should bind us together in Jesus’ name. It should mark the church as different from the unbelieving world, showing others who Jesus is and that we belong to Him.
In that sense, it will be especially fitting for us to gather on Maundy Thursday with brothers and sisters from other congregations, worshiping side-by-side and sharing the joyful fellowship of Christian love.
In the Communion meal, we will also display the unity and shared faith of Jesus’ followers. The sym-bolism of gathering at one table, partaking of a common loaf and drinking from a shared cup (even though we will use our pre-packaged Communion elements) remind us that we have one Savior, that we are one Church bound together through one Spirit in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These things matter, even as imperfect symbols of more wonderful truths. The unity and fellowship of the Church matters. Singing and praying together matters. Reading God’s word together matters. These shared experiences impact our hearts and forge bonds between believers that will outlast this world.
It will also be good to see old friends and renew relationships that may have been put on hold the past two years. I hope it will be a joyful evening that will be repeated in the coming years as each church takes a turn hosting. Broadway is not alone in ministry, and we can gain strength and wisdom from our sister churches.
May God bless this special gathering on Maundy Thursday. May the Spirit teach us to love one another. May Jesus’ name be lifted high as we remember His death and rejoice in His resurrection.