Rev. Karen Hernandez, pastor of Living Hope, Kuna United Methodist Church
On the Christian calendar, this week (the last week before Easter) is known as Holy Week. My church and tradition mark the week with Palm Sunday (Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem), Maundy Thursday (the institution of the Last Supper), and Good Friday (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death). Good Friday is a little more mainstream and better known even to those outside of the church. Maundy Thursday, on the other hand, is often a bit of a mystery to folks.
The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “command.” A new commandment is central to Maundy Thursday. On his last night in this life, Jesus ate dinner with his disciples, those who followed him most closely. He washed their feet, which models for us yet again that those who desire to serve God must serve others. After reminding his dinner company of all that he had been trying to teach them with his sermons, his conversations, his actions, his life of ministry, Jesus issued a new commandment: “Love one another.” Period. No exceptions. No footnotes. No clauses about who may be excluded from love or what one must do to earn it. Just “love one another.”
I recently read “‘Love and I’—A Mystery,” which is a sermon by the 19th century British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. In that sermon Spurgeon writes, “You cannot reciprocate love which you have never known, even as a [person] cannot derive strength from food which he [or she] has not eaten.” Being in the presence of food is insufficient, as is being the presence of love. Perhaps this is why Jesus prays for God’s love to be in us—not offered to us, not surrounding us, not showering down upon us, but in us. It is only by first knowing God’s love as it exists within us that we are able to give any love at all. Spurgeon offers the beautiful simile that God is like the sun and we are like the moon. Just as the moon does not produce light, we do not create love or have any of our own to give away. Rather the moon reflects sunlight, and so we reflect God’s love to others.
I’m absolutely certain that God’s love is available to you! Do you have that love within you? If not, there is no more perfect time than the present—particularly with Easter coming this weekend! Easter is the church’s celebration of Jesus’ victory over death. It’s our proof that love always wins! If you are in need of some all-encompassing, no exceptions love, or if you are in need of a jolt of new life, living hope, and promises fulfilled, please find your way to a church in our community this weekend or any weekend…or every weekend.
May you be blessed in these holy days of this Holy Week and filled with new life as sure as the sun rises on Easter morning.