the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Maundy Thursday

The Apostle Paul is the first to write about the events that took place on the Thursday evening before Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified as a traitor.
I Corinthians 11:23-26

Most of us have known people, perhaps even loved ones, who have been told by a doctor that they are going to die. But the impact on us is not the same as the impact would be if those words were spoken to us. If we knew we were going to die in the next twenty-four hours, how would that affect us? What would we do?

When Jesus met with his disciples in the upper room he knew he was going to die. He knew when he was going to die. He knew how he was going to die. And yet he was calm, kind and generous to his disciples. He joined with them to eat the Passover meal.

I am convinced that from the time Jesus was in the wilderness those 40 days, fasting and discerning his mission, he knew that he would die. From the moment, in Galilee, when he set his face toward Jerusalem, Jesus knew he was going to die there. As they passed along the way, he and his disciples could see the crosses that lined the road into Jerusalem.

When he got to Jerusalem, he began his death march with a ride on the back of a donkey. Like King David before him, he entered the Holy City and was hailed by a great crowd of people to be King of the Jews. As soon as he arrived at the Temple mount, he dismounted and went into the Temple courts. After he surveyed the scene he began to challenge and disrupt the Temple cult. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the sellers of sacrificial animals. He drove out the men who were conducting the priests business. "My house is a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves." It was not only the money changers and the animal sellers who were thieves in a house of prayer. His indictment was for the Priests and their whole sacrificial cult. For they were selling forgiveness where there was no forgiveness. have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17
Jesus spent Monday through Thursday going to the Temple in the day and to Bethany at night. He knew that the Chief Priests could not continue to allow his challenge to go unanswered. He knew that the most likely time to be arrested was Thursday evening, for the deed had to be done no later than Friday morning in order to avoid the Sabbath.

On Thursday he arranged not to travel to Bethany, but to stay in Jerusalem. He arranged to have the Passover meal in the upstairs room of a house in Jerusalem. This house was probably the house where John Mark lived with his mother. (Acts 12:12) There the meal had been prepared and was covered with a cloth to protect it from the elements. Jesus arrived first. He walked over to the table and took the cloth from the table and with it washed the feet of his disciples as they arrived.

After the meal Jesus took the bread and blessed it:
Father when we were wandering through the desert without food we grumbled to you and you gave us the manna, the bread from heaven. Bless this bread we eat tonight and remind us of the bread of life, that all those who eat that bread will never be hungry.
He broke it, reminiscent of the feeding of the 5,000 people in the wilderness of Galilee. He offered it to His disciples and said, "take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you. As often as you do it, do it in rememberance of me."

Then he took the cup and blessed it:
Father, in the wilderness when we grumbled about the tasteless bread you gave us meat, and we continued to grumble because we had no water and you sent Moses to the rock to strike it with his staff. Out of the rock came the clean fresh water. And when Jesus was at Jacob's well in Samaria, he told of a living water, that whoever drinks of that water will never thirst. With the Samaritians we ask that you give us that water, always. Bless this drink that of which we are about to partake. Help us to realize the true suffering that it represents and the pure love and grace that it makes available for us.
He said to his disciples, "drink, this is the new covenant in my blood, blood that will be spilled out for you. As often as you do this, do it in rememberance of me."

The scripture says they sang a hymn and went out.


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