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Friday, April 18, 2014

04172014 Maundy Thursday

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

For those of you who remember back at Christmas Eve the early service.  The church moved something.  It wasn’t the Advent wreath that helped us count down the weeks til Christmas.  It wasn’t the Crucifix that is very seldom used.  It wasn’t the offering plates or vases for flowers or the missal stand on the altar.  What moved was the Christ Candle.  For part of the year from Ascension Sunday until Christmas Eve, the Christ Candle is at the Right Hand of the Altar.  This is the symbol of our remembering what we confess in the Apostle’s Creed that “Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father.”  On Christmas Eve the Christ Candle moves to the floor of the church proper to signify Christ coming down from heaven, just as this is also the beginning of making the sign of the Cross with one’s hand going from the head to the chest signifying Jesus coming from heaven to earth.

These collective actions, of moving the Christ Candle and making the sign of the Cross connect perfectly with Holy Baptism.  This is why in Holy Baptism after the individual is baptized, whether, infant, child or adult they are given a small Baptismal Candle.  The candle is lit from the Christ Candle or even from the Altar and signifies and is a remembrance of our connection to Jesus Christ and our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.

The Baptismal and Christ Candle represent three things for us this evening, a celebration, a remembrance and the hope that is found in our celebrating the Baptismal rite.  It is a celebration, because in the waters of Holy Baptism with this Candle we celebrate God’s being the light of the World and His entrance into the life of the individual and the eternal impact God makes upon their life.  God reaches down from heaven and offers in Holy Baptism, life and salvation through the Water connected with the Word of God.  In this Holy Sacrament ordained and instituted by God we find our connection not only to God but the link that God offers for all of mankind freely and without requirement on our part.

Not only is this a celebration, it is a remembrance of Jesus Christ being baptized in the Jordan River.  We remember this connection and make it to, for and with ourselves.  When I was in Israel, one of the ladies I went to Israel with gave me after our return one of the most precious gifts, it was an ornate bottle that contained water from the Jordan River as a reminder for me of our trip and to be used during my future ministry to connect the baptism of the person with Jesus Christ baptism in the Jordan.  That remembrance still to this day connects me clearly with God’s gifts offered for all of mankind through Water and Word.

For not only do we celebrate the Gift given and remember Who the giver is, but as we gather tonight the meal we partake in is a reminder of the hope God gives each of us.  Tonight as we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper it is a meal of hope.  The hope is incomplete, because we still need Good Friday in order to have Easter Sunday.  But in the Holy Supper we share tonight from the altar of our Lord, God is offering us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that is the hope for all mankind.  It is a hope that connects not only we who gather here around this altar, but with all believers of all time and place, including those who now rest in their Lord and Savior’s arms. 

The Lord’s Supper is a meal that God connects to each of us today.  This is why when we have this meal, we light the two candles on the Altar as a reminder of the specialness and sacredness of the meal.  This is why we also light the Christ Candle for our reminder of Christ being in our hearts and His Holy Baptism and our connection to it and the Holy Supper He instituted.  And why we give a small candle at Holy Baptism for it to be used yearly at our baptismal anniversary as a celebration of God’s gift of forgiveness in baptism, a remembrance that it is God’s gift for us and it points to the hope we share in the promises of God through Water and Word.  For God offers Holy Baptism and this meal of the Lord’s Supper for all of mankind, for the forgiveness of sins because of His great love for each of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Maundy Thursday.  AMEN.

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