Perhaps the least known of all of the Easter days, Maundy Thursday symbolises one of the greatest challenges for christians. As we look at the cross, we are aware of two beams, vertical and horizontal. These have inspired preachers to reflect on the two aspects of the cross for our lives: the vertical representing our restored relationship with God, and the horizontal representing our restored relationships with one another. It is this "horizontal" aspect which comes into focus on Maundy Thursday.
The day derives its name from the command (the Latin term mandatum) given by Jesus to the disciples at the Last Supper: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). It behooves us to remember that the events of the Easter weekend began with this command. Any understanding of the cross which does not challenge us to a deeper relationship with one another in the context of a restored relationship with God is only half an understanding at best. The letters of John take this thought even further, strongly linking our love for God with our love for one another. This has a powerful message to the world. "By this will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
That Maundy Thursday is part of the Easter remembrance and celebration reminds us of the integration of three aspects of the work of the cross: restoring our relationship with God; deepening our love for one anther as followers of Jesus; and conveying this message to a world in desperate need.
It follows then that these three aspects ought to be part of all of our lives: both as individuals and as a church: How are we nurturing our love for God? How are we demonstrating our love for one another? How are we conveying this message of love to the people we meet who have not experienced it?
March 24, 1996