RCL Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Saint John 13:1-17 and
31b-35

You heard it in the Passover Charter Narrative from Exodus: “Throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.”[1] But tonight for us Christians is a different night. We celebrate the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament given to us not as a “perpetual ordinance,” but as a “pledge of eternal life,”[2] according to the Collect of the Day.

For me, the difference is tremendous. The Passover looks back at a saving act of God, when the Almighty brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, and set them free, actually and figuratively. The Passover is a perpetual ordinance remembering an act of liberation.

In the Eucharist, instituted by the Lord Jesus within a Passover meal, according to the Synoptic Gospels, we for all time look back to the Offering of the Lord on the Cross, the breaking of his Body and the shedding of his Blood, but also—and this is the tremendous difference—we look forward for all time to the promised gift of eternal life. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we kneel at Calvary even as we look forward to eternal life given to us by the Lord in his self-offering of himself at Calvary. We look back to the gift of his self-offering, and we look forward to the inheritance we have eternally in virtue of that gift.

Of all people, dearly beloved, we are most blessed. We are given in the Eucharist the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.”[3]

I encourage you, therefore, to receive the Sacrament tonight, tomorrow, Sunday, and for the rest of your lives with thankfulness and with humility, that so great a gift has been given to us for the salvation of our souls. With the gift of the Eucharist, we are free to write our own stories, stories of life and of hope, of faith and of charity, and of thanksgiving to God, who became like us so that we might be like God. That freedom has been given to each of us, sealed in the never-ending Sacrament, for time and for eternity.

[1] Exodus 12:14.

[2] BCP, page 221.

[3] BCP, pages 859-860.

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