Maundy Thursday

I first got to preach on Maundy Thursday in 2008.  Since then, I have more or less preached the same Maundy
Thursday sermon every chance I’ve gotten.  Tonight, I will attempt to preach a different sermon, a new one, but it probably won’t be, really.  Because Maundy Thursday is my favorite night of the church year, and my love for this service will no doubt draw the sermon right back where my heart is.
For this devotional, however, I’m going another way.  Instead of focusing on the new commandment, I’m going to focus on the Lord’s Supper.
There are two works of art I’d like you to consider as meditations on the Lord’s Supper.  One is solemn and, for me, heartbreaking.  The other is…a bit of a stretch, and if you’re feeling cynical or snarky, easily mocked.  But if you’re feeling open and charitable, maybe you’ll love it, too.
The Solemn One
Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves.  – 1 Corinthians 11.28-29
One of my top 5 movies (and the only serious one of the bunch) is called “Son of Man.”  It’s a modern-day retelling of the Jesus story set in a fictional African country called Judea.  In the film’s depiction of the Last Supper, Jesus passes around a small bucket with wine in the bottom for his disciples to drink from.  As each person looks into the deep red liquid, they see the horrors that have touched their lives and that haunt them still.  They see the violence that they have perpetrated and that they have endured.  And then they drink from the cup.
Here is a clip of that scene, and if you want to watch the whole movie, I’ll lend you the dvd:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai-pV8KTsDY
The Playful One
In the same way he 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.’  – 1 Corinthians 11.25
For 30 of my 45 years, I have been a huge fan of the musician Sting.  I own all the albums, all the concert dvd’s, I’ve read the autobiography, and attended a half dozen concerts.  I’ve snuck his lyrics into at least 2 sermons, and might do it again before the end of Eastertide.
His 2004 album, Sacred Love, is packed with Christian imagery and one of the songs on that album was a duet with Mary J. Blige, “Whenever I Say Your Name.”  Sting loves the ambiguous pronoun and here uses it to great effect, either calling on the name of Jesus or of a lover.  I won’t pretend that there’s a deep, profound eucharistic theology in the song, but when my favorite artist uses the imagery of Holy Communion, it makes me very happy!  I share the lyrics below, and links to 2 versions:
Here the original version with the incomparable Mary J. Blige:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq0bl7KjkrQ
Here with the Berlin Philharmonic and Jo Lawry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PLmyPUp7VI
“Whenever I Say Your Name,” music and lyrics by Sting
Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
Whatever bread’s in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Whenever your memory feeds my soul, whatever got broken becomes whole
Whenever I’m filled with doubts that we will be together
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I put my head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I’m calling out your name
Whenever those dark clouds hide the moon
Whenever this world has gotten so strange
I know that something’s gonna change
Something’s gonna change
Whenever I say your name, I’m already praying
I’m already filled with a joy that I can’t explain
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I’m on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I’m already praying
Whenever this world has got me down, whenever I shed a tear
Whenever the TV makes me mad, whenever I’m paralyzed with fear
Whenever those dark clouds fill the sky, whenever I lose the reason why
Whenever I’m filled with doubts that we will be together
Whenever the sun refuse to shine, whenever the skies are pouring rain
Whatever I lost I thought was mine whenever I close my eyes in pain
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I’m calling out your name
Whenever this dark begins to fall
Whenever I’m vulnerable and small
Whenever I feel like I could die
Whenever I’m holding back the tears that I cry
Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
I’m already praying
Whatever bread’s in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I’m forced to lie awake and have to weep
Whenever I’m on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I’m already praying
Whenever I say your name,
No matter how long it takes,
One day we’ll be together
Whenever I say your name,
let there be no mistake
that day will last forever

Peace,
Fr. Greg+