I have to admit I have not been completely pumped up for this Holy Week. Don’t misunderstand. I adore this time of walking with Jesus, but the sum of life beyond Holy Week has been sapping my energy. I was really looking forward to Easter simply because my vacation begins after the benediction.
It’s not the best place to be in as a pastor.
Often, when my emotional and mental energy is at a low-point, the Holy Spirit comes along and reminds me how amazing it is be be part of the body of Christ. Maundy Thursday was one such blessed moment.
Maundy Thursday has always been a modest affair at Central. We’ve attracted between 20 and 30 people and had a low-key Communion service. Last year we worshipped over a fellowship meal and a few more people showed up, but not so many that I’d call it momentous occasion for the congregation. Now, to be honest, I’m not worried as much about total size of the attendance as I am total percentage of the congregation which participates. As the participation percentage goes up, the more likely the impact these services will have on our core identity. A low percentage means it’s a nice thing for a few people, but tends not to have a lasting impact on who we are.
This year was a momentous occasion for our congregation.
We had our fellowship meal once again, but also invited our new Brazilian brothers and sisters to participate with us. We had 48 seats set up, almost 20 more than I’d ever seen at Maundy Thursday. We filled them all, before our Brazilian sisters and brothers were able to arrive 1. After our new family members began to appear, we had to add two more tables. Combined, the bulk of both the English and Portuguese worshipping congregations were present. It was an open door to significantly impact the two congregations.
Worship was held in both English and Portuguese. Much of which was translated, some was not. Pastor Ronnie, the Brazilian pastor, led the Lord’s Supper and shared a brief meditation on the commemoration before we handed out the elements. Together we took the bread, and it was a special moment. When we moved to the cup 2, however, things got interesting.
Pastor Ronnie has his own way of partaking the cup during Communion. Instead of just declaring it as the blood of Christ, he encourages people to take a portion of the juice in their cups and pour it into a neighbor’s cup while saying, “You are my brother/sister, you are greater than I am.” The first recipient then reciprocates. People make their way around the room, pouring the juice between cups and telling one another, “You are greater than I am.” After a while, Ronnie called us all back and called us to drink from the cup – from the image of Christ’s blood shed on our behalf. It was a pretty amazing experience.
Now I am exhausted beyond belief, but absolutely overjoyed at what I have just experienced. And now I’m wondering what’s in store for Easter beyond the start of my vacation 3.
To God be the glory.
- They tend to have later work schedules, so they arrived about a half hour after we began the meal. ↩
- No real wine in the Baptist basement. ↩
- I am still aching for vacation, it’s time for a break. Don’t think I’m blowing the smoke of false piety here – I’m just excited for the rest of the story now in a way I hadn’t been prior to this evening. ↩