Maundy Thursday Homily

Maundy Thursday Homily
Dr. Bobby Hulme-Lippert
April 14, 2022 

Psalm 55 is among the more memorable of the Psalms. Early on we hear this kind of language:

“My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.

And we are wondering, ‘goodness, what is the cause of this level of angst and pain?”

The psalmist continues:

“If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.

But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,

with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.”

It is a lament of betrayal.

We can endure a lot of pain and wrong in this lifetime, but there are few things that hit as squarely upon the heart as the betrayal of friendship. Of trust.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed…

It’s not just on the night that something bad happened. Or a tragic event occurred. Or evil drew near. All true.

What is striking is how personal the pain is. “On the night that Jesus was betrayed.” What does one do on that kind of night?

“On the night that Jesus was betrayed…”

  • He does not pick up the knife of revenge…
  • Nor does he begin building the wall of division from Judas, the betrayer…
  • He does not even pick off the dirt he has on Judas that maybe everyone would be interested to know…

He takes the bread. He reached for the most elemental nourishment of life. And with that bread on the night that he is betrayed…he gives God thanks for that bread.

And says, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

He makes clear, he is the God whose body is
Given in love.
Broken in love.
Offered in love.

The invitation to “do this in remembrance of me” is not simply to “eat bread and think back to Jesus” but to ingest this kind of way into you, the body of Christ.

So that the body of Christ on earth might likewise be a people
Given in love.
Broken in love.
Offered in love.

In the same way – on the night that he was betrayed – Jesus took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

He makes clear, that he is the God whose blood is poured out…

  • For the life of others.
  • In forgiveness.
  • In love upon the world.

And the invitation to “do this in remembrance of me” is not simply to “drink this cup and remember Jesus” but to ingest this kind of way into you, the body of Christ.

So that the body of Christ on earth might likewise be poured out
for the life of others.
In forgiveness.
In love.

Paul then tells the church that “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, as often as you are nourished and filled upon Jesus’ love, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

“Your way at the table makes a declaration to the world about what the cross is all about. For when you gather at the table like this, the world can see that when the worst of life is thrown at us – the pain of betrayal from a loved one, a trusted one – that there, precisely there, a banquet of love is brought forth.”

Or as we hear declared in another well-known part of Scripture: “You prepare a table in the presence of mine enemies.”

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians is dealing with a deeply divided church. And what we see in our passage is that one of the singular ways Paul addresses the division is by telling the story of what Jesus did at a moment of deeply painful division.

And then Paul doesn’t tell us here precisely what we should or should not say or do when it comes to the divisions we know,

To the person or people who have hurt us,

to the other side that so pains us…

To ourselves who are dealing with the hurt, we have dolled out…

…rather, more profoundly, Paul lifts up the story of who God is – a body broken in love and life-blood poured out in love for us even and especially when we do our worst to God.

And in that same story Paul lifts up who we are even and especially when we do our worst to one another: we are the body broken in love people. The life-blood poured out in love people.

This is what we eat, and you are what you eat. Right?  I wonder what this meal might call forth from us tonight…

And then I love how Paul ends this little section – “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.”

This means…we need not worry about whether the results of our love work or do not work in the way we plan or the timeline we plan…

We offer ourselves as broken and poured out knowing that whatever happens… it’s in the Lord’s hands, and he shall come again to set all things right.

In the meantime, we’ll keep coming to this table as one family – the betrayers and the betrayed alike – to feed on who we are and whose we are.  And trusting the promise of Love. Amen.

About Dr. Bobby Hulme-Lippert