Maundy Thursday 2023 - A message from Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson

Maundy Thursday 2023 - A message from Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson

April 03, 2023

Remembering who we are

By Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson
Director of Congregational Excellence & New Communities of Faith

Based on Exodus 14 and Mark 14:22-25

We have two cats. Every morning I am greeted by their insistent meows. Why? Because they want food! In fact, this morning, they were pawing at the door as I was not moving fast enough. They seem to forget I fed them yesterday or every day this week. They struggle to remember from one day to the next. 

In Exodus, the people of God are not all that different from our cats. God freed the people from centuries of slavery, dealt with the Pharaoh’s army, used a pillar of fire, and parted the Red Sea. Still, even after all the people forget, they complain and look backward toward what they left rather than what is ahead. You would think all those miraculous things would have bought Moses some complaint-free time, but no. Like our cats, a few days later, the people tell Moses they have no food. So, Moses prays to God, and manna is provided. And yet again, they shortly forget what God did for them. It seems the people of God have always struggled to remember who and whose we are.

Today is Maundy Thursday, when we remember Jesus and the disciples in the upper room. Jesus gathers his followers together, takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them, saying, "this is my body broken for you." In other words, this is who you are; you are gathered in my name. You are the ones for whom I have sacrificed for you. You are mine, and I am yours. You are beloved. After supper, he takes the cup, gives thanks, and says, “this cup is the cup of the new covenant poured out for you and many for the forgiveness of sin. Drink it often in remembrance of me.” On Maundy Thursday, and each time we come to Lord’s table, we are reminded who we are – beloved children of God.

But as our cats forget and the Hebrew people forget what God did for them, the people of God still today forget who we are. We forget that we are freed, redeemed, and gifted to share the message of God. If you find yourself forgetting, and slipping into the comfortable place of complaining, remember who you are. Remember who you are if you find yourself lost, alone, afraid, and wrongly believing you have been abandoned. Remember who you are if things are going well and you think it is all because of you and your actions. 

Maybe someone has told you that you are defective or unwelcome. Perhaps you have been told, even by some in the church, that you are unworthy and sinful. Please do not listen. Instead, remember who you are, beloved child. Remember you are perfectly and wonderfully made.

No matter what you face today or any day, remember who and whose you are – beloved children of God always gathered around the table. 
Prayer: God, you call us together at the table to remember who we are. You call us to accept the free gift of your love without condition and without limit. This love can seem so overwhelming we sometimes desire to turn away. Yet at this moment, remind us who we are and focus our attention on the world that You love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen