A Devotion for the Thursday of Holy Week: Meal Day

gray footed cup beside baguette bread

“And when the hour came, Jesus reclined at table, and the apostles with Him.  And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’”  Luke 22:14-16

Our families are sure getting a lot of ‘together time’ with this quarantine and all.  The governor and the president are asking us to stay home where we’ll be safe – and there really isn’t anywhere to go, anyhow.  Not even to eat.  So, we eat at home.  This is, perhaps, most we’ve eaten at home in a long time.  You realize, of course, that this isn’t so bad.

Eating at home with our families can truly be a blessing for us.  Hopefully, the food is going to be better and healthier for us than all that fast food we’ve grown so accustomed to.  Sitting around a meal together as a family we can eat, talk and reminisce.  Mealtime can be a time for us to share.  

Sitting around a meal together as a family was really important to God’s people of the Old Testament.  There was a special meal every year they would gather around.  At that meal they would eat, talk, reminisce and share.  The meal they gathered around was called, of course, the Passover.   The Passover meal was a time for them to think back and to talk about something wonderful God had done for them in the past.  And it was a time for them to look forward to and talk about something He would be doing for them in their future.

During the Passover meal they ate some special food.  Bread, wine, bitter herbs and spices, lamb,  a hard-boiled egg, among other things.  Each of these items gave them something to remember, something to talk about.  And what they talked about was how the Angel of Death ‘passed over’ their homes sparing their first-born sons.  They talked about how this act of God won them their freedom from slavery under the Egyptians.   

As they gathered together each year for this special meal, they not only talked about what God had done for them in the past, but also about what God would be doing for them in their future.  The sacrifice of the lamb for the Passover meal would serve to remind them of the sacrifice that God the Father would be making for them – the sacrifice of His son on the cross.  

The Passover celebration was a wonderful family time.  Much of this celebration would take place in the home with the family eating, talking, reminiscing and sharing together.  They thought of the past blessings of God and what He would be doing for them in their future.

That first Maundy Thursday, so many years ago, Jesus gathered with His family of disciples to celebrate the Passover meal.  They no doubt thought of the past blessings from God.  And then Jesus spoke of the future blessings from God that were now imminent. The very next day Christ would be sacrificed on the cross for those disciples and for all of mankind.  Jesus changed the Passover meal into something we, as Christians, are now more familiar with.  He changed the Passover meal into the meal of Holy Communion.  While the Passover looked back at their freedom from slavery and looked forward to the sacrifice of Jesus yet to come – Communion looks back at the sacrifice of Jesus that has now happened and looks forward to His return at the end of time.  This is a very special meal that is usually celebrated in church, together in our congregational families.  Celebrating communion together on Maundy Thursday in church can be especially meaningful.  But not this year.  Unfortunately, we won’t be gathering this year on Maundy Thursday.

A few years back I walked past a synagogue. There was a sign on the front door that read ‘Closed for Passover’.  I thought that rather strange.  The most important Jewish celebration and the synagogue was closed!  You’d think the place would be packed!  But then I realized that much of the Passover is celebrated at home as a family. It’s a Meal Day.  A time to eat, and talk, and reminisce and to share.  

With this quarantine we are unable to gather together in our churches to celebrate the most meaningful meal of Holy Communion.  However, this Maundy Thursday we can gather as families within our homes to enjoy some time together.  We can make it a time to eat, talk, reminisce and to share.  We can remember past blessings from God and speak of blessings yet to come.  

We look back at how God has blessed us in so many wonderful ways including the freedoms we enjoy in this wonderful land of ours, to our friends and families and especially the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus.  We look forward to the day we will see Jesus either at the end of the world or on the day we die.  And in the meantime, we look forward to the day we can gather together around the Lord’s Table to celebrate the special meal together once again.

One of the items consumed at the Passover meal is a hard-boiled egg.  Its symbolism is significant.  Usually when something is heated, it melts.  But when an egg is heated, it gets hard.  Slavery hardened the Jews into the strong and mighty people they became.  The sacrifices and fears of the troubling times we now endure can do the same for us.  We can be strengthened us as we do without so many things we’ve grown so accustomed to.  We can be blessed as we look to God, remembering what He has done for us in the past, looking forward to what He’ll do for us in the future, and how He is blessing us right here and now. 

We pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank and praise You for the blessings of this special meal day.  Although we are unable to gather together to enjoy blessings of Holy Communion on this Maundy Thursday, You are blessing us with time to consider Your blessings to us past, present and future.  

We thank You for the blessings of the past.  Just as You blessed Your people of the Old Testament with freedom from slavery, You have blessed us with freedom from the slavery of our sins.  

We thank You for the blessings of the future that we look ahead to.  With Christ as our Savior we have the blessings of eternal life to look forward to.  We can live our lives free from fear knowing that we will spend an eternity with You in heaven.  

We thank You, Father, for blessings You shower upon us right here and now.  You bless us with Your Holy Word and our baptisms that assure us of Your love and forgiveness.  We look forward to once again enjoying the Sacrament of Holy Communion when we will be able to gather together in our congregations.

In Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen.    


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