Thursday, March 20, 2008

To His Table

This evening Christians celebrate Maundy Thursday. If you already know what "Maundy" means, you deserve a gold egg....

....For the enlightenment of everyone else: The word is etymologically descended from the Latin mandatum, as in Jesus's famous statement at the Last Supper, "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" (John 13:34). Or in the modern English of the NIV, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Mandate comes from the same root. Loving each other is not a suggestion. Not a "good idea." It's a mandate. A command. An order--an order there is no excuse for not following. "Their habits get on my nerves" is not an excuse. "I can't stand their worship music" is not an excuse. "I was always taught not to associate with/trust their social/ethnic group" is definitely not an excuse. Not even "they/their people treated me/my people badly" is an excuse. Loving as Christ did means to follow His example: to make the first move toward peace (again and again if necessary); and to forgive anyone who asks, without insisting on a "penance period."

Remember, we ourselves have no "right" to sit at Christ's heavenly table. As we are invited only by His grace, only He has the right to choose who else is invited. And He wants everyone there who is willing.

He also wants us to issue all the invitations we can on His behalf. Irrespective of any human differences.

God is calling us all to His table,
From Earth's poles, from the desert sands,
From the cities with all of their bustle,
From the isles and the mountain lands,
From the tundra, from plains that stretch onward,
From the wetlands where floods have spilled;
He gives all His free invitation:
"Come, and eat till your souls are filled."

God is calling us all to His table,
And whatever your shade of skin,
And whatever the home you may come from,
And whatever your past has been,
Though the pain of your life has crushed you
Till you feel that your heart will burst,
He gives you His free invitation:
"Come, and drink here to quench your thirst."

God is calling us all to His table,
And the weak and the strong are here,
Where the wounds of the past end in friendship
And peace drives away pain and fear.
Here the trappings of power mean nothing,
For our Host looks on all in love--
He gives all His free invitation:
"Feast as family on food from above."

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