With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 38 – Maundy Thursday
To Listen: An Upper Room
An upper room did our Lord prepare
for those he loved until the end:
and his disciples still gather there,
to celebrate their risen friend.
A lasting gift Jesus gave his own:
to share his bread, his loving cup.
Whatever burdens may bow us down,
he by his cross shall lift us up.
And after supper he washed their feet
for service, too, is sacrament.
In Christ our joy shall be made complete
sent out to serve, as he was sent.
No end there is! We depart in peace,
he loves beyond the uttermost:
in ev’ry room in our Father’s house
Christ will be there, as Lord and host.
(Fred Pratt Green – 1903-2000 alt)
From the Scriptures:
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ 9 They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ 10 ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters 11 and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ 13 So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
He saw it all coming.
He knew what was going to happen.
He could see his followers were frightened.
He had his own approaching sorrow to carry.
What did He do?
He washed their feet and gave them His own self for food.
No thought of His own death
– a death He knew was to come with the Dawn.
No thought of the night of punishment and mockery that he would receive.
No thought of the pain He would bear.
He thought only of those around Him, even thinking of Judas (Do what thou hast to do quickly) and preparing Peter for the denial that waited at Cock’s crow.
All was prepared.
A deep breath, a gritting of the teeth, a last loving look towards Peter from the High Priest’s house, and then oblivion.
He did not know for certain that He would rise again on the Third Day,
He did not do know, and prayed in agony and bloody sweat that it would be removed, the depth of the pain that was coming.
He did not know the desolation of being separated from the Father with whom He spoke the world into existence.
Yet He still spent time preparing those around Him, hoping to soften the blow for them knowing all that He was to endure.
In the face of ‘Such Love’ how do we prepare for these final days of our Lenten journey?
Each year I make all sorts of pledges and promises for these three days but then God intervenes.
‘No Andrew,’ the Beloved says, ‘You can’t stay at the vigil until Dawn tomorrow – let me take the weight.’
‘Yes, Andrew, you hadn’t expected this precious moment when you could ‘wash’ the feet of an awkward and inconvenient (even unwanted?) visitor to the Vicarage but I will give you the strength to walk the extra mile with them.’
‘Come here child, let me enfold you in my arms and remind you that I have indeed “gone to prepare a place for you”’.
I don’t always like being ‘Done unto’ but, down the years, these three days have taught me to ‘Let Go, and Let God’. The One Who Loves us Best is going to fulfil the promise made since the Word spoke the world into existence. We are going to be loved, cherished and held close, and there is nothing we can do to stop that. God be praised!
Experience has taught me that I have nothing to add to this most holy of holy times other than to watch and wonder. If circumstances change and I find myself in places I had not intended, or did not want, to be He has prepared even for that and in the middle of busy-ness we will find rest.
Over the last two years of pandemic so many plans that we have laid have been upset, overturned and ruined. Now, at this time, pandemic or not, war in Ukraine or not, turmoil amongst the leaders of the nations or not, all has been prepared. Our only task is to wait and watch as bread and wine becomes body and blood, the Saviour becomes the servant, and death is vanquished for ever.
O Christ, door of the sheepfold,
may we enter your gates with praise
and go from your courts to serve you
in the poor, the lost and the wandering,
this day and all our days.
Yes, go ahead with the preparations made for the coming days, but try not take on any extra devotion, any additional penance. Do what you have prepared to do and as you do this wonder at the great love of the One who came to take away the Sins of the whole world.
Reprise: Stay With Me
A simple song to take with you if you are part of a watch through the night in Gethsemane.
Stay with me, remain here with me,
watch and pray watch and pray.
(Taizé Community, based on Matthew 26:36-42 Ateliers et Presses de Taizé)
Please Note: These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin
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Prayers are adapted from the Psalm Prayers in the Common Worship Psalter. material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘With a Song in my Heart’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2022