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“The Upper Room” – Mark 14:12-26/ March 28th, 2024 / Maundy Thursday / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: Mark 14:12-26

Theme: The Upper Room (Series: 7 places, 1 Story)

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Intr – Your life, my life, they happen in places. So many places. Private and public places. The places you’ve been, the place you are right now. The places you don’t want to remember, the places you just can’t forget.

The Holy Week is made of places too. In our Sermon Series this year we made stops along the way in some specific, different places of this beautiful, Grand and Unique Story of Salvation. Places which are important and defining. Sites and occasions where our place in God’s hands, our place in the family of Christ, our place in heaven were prepared and defined. Above all, we reflect on how each of those places is all about Christ – and, therefore, about us.

Our stop today is in the Upper Room. A meal is taking place there. But another, superior and life-giving Meal will also take place in that place.

1 – Teaching

Jesus and His disciples recline to have a meal together. Around that table, Jesus also teaches, as we learn from St. John. His teaching includes love, unity, endurance. The most striking of them is done not only by words, but also by action – Serving, through the washing of their feet. Precious lessons that have a place in our heart and our actions, by the sending of the Comforter – another promise made at that very place.

2 – Tension and Betrayal

However, not everything was good and nice on that evening. The upper room was also a place of betrayal. That was the inner circle of Jesus’ friends, and still there was one who decided in his heart to do the unthinkable. Judas. Jesus deals with the situation with firmness and love.

There are times in which we may experience betrayal in our inner or outer circle. There are times we are the ones betraying the confidence of family and friends. Remember, the same place of betrayal was the place of forgiveness. That would have been extended even to a repentant Judas – one thing that unfortunately did not take place in his heart. Forgiveness is always there for you. And for all.

3 – Hymn Singing

Fellowship, love, tension, betrayal; and also hymn singing. Was that singing a celebration like on Easter Day, or a tense repetition of notes like in a funeral? Probably the latter, or a mix of both. What we know for sure is that from the many arts available Jesus chooses singing (not to the demerit of any other of them). Singing has been drilled down so deep in our Christian minds in our life of believing, teaching, and confessing that led our Teacher Dr. Martin Luther to affirm Music to be the next most important thing after the Word itself.

When you are happy, sing. When you are sad, sing. When you are in a situation where both love and tension are in the air, sing. If not with your mouth, sing with your heart. Listen. Good hymns and songs point you to the best place to be at that moment – locked down inside God’s secure hands.

4 – A Meal

In that Upper Room, a Meal takes place. Have you ever realized that the place for many important happenings in life is around a table, or around food? Preparing food, and receiving it, is a sign of love, care, proximity, friendship. Isn’t the kitchen the most attended place of a house? Jesus gives one of the Two Sacraments to His disciples around a table: in intimacy, confidence, love, and care.

5 – The Holy Meal

The highest point of that evening was a Meal. Not the regular meal they were having, but a special one, instituted by Jesus. A new covenant in His blood. It is highly significant that one of the three means of Grace is a meal. That means that the altar, the table of the Lord, is a Place to be, and a place to return frequently to as family of God. The altar is the place where Jesus meets us and we meet him truly, faithfully, and physically.

“Holy Communion is more than just a faint recollection of the Lord – a recollection in which we might way: “Oh, yes, I do remember Jesus.” The word used for remembering in the original language refers to a profound kind of remembering – a vivid memory of something very important to us. As we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we vividly remember Jesus and what he has done for us. The first occasion of the Holy Sacrament was our Lord’s final Passover meal with his disciples. This event happened, we are told,“… on the night in which he was betrayed.” [1]

The Passover Meal is connected to Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verses 20 to 23. There we see the description of the Jewish Passover, which is the direct precursor of the Lord’s Supper. The Hebrews were told to remember all the great deeds of the Lord. Now Jesus brings the Meal that is the permanent memory of God’s greatest act of all: deliverance from sin and the promise of the New Land in Heaven.

But not only that. Holy Supper is not just for the memory, for the head, but especially for the heart. It is one of the means of Grace in which God delivers his wonderful promises to us. It is a moment in which we meet Jesus in the most intimate manner there is – we receive His blood and body in us. When we talk about growing a relationship of intimacy with God, Holy Communion can never be left to the side as a nice ceremony. This is a feast of Love, grace, forgiveness, and fellowship. An unforgettable meal.

Holy Supper is the very blood and body of Christ delivered to us under and with the bread and the wine. It is not a symbol. It is not a transformation. It is a real presence – in two natural means, bread, and wine, two supernatural gifts are given, body and blood. By the words spoken over the bread and the wine, we have Christ’s body and blood in His Holy Table. How do we know that? Because of His words and promise. It is not because the Church told you so, because the pastor has any superpower or because it is a tradition to do things this way. It is because of Christ’s Words, and His Words alone: This is my body, this cup is the New Testament in my blood.

The Holy Supper is a place for joy and anticipation. I notice that sometimes we come to it sometimes too seriously, myself included. I get it, we want to show respect for what is going on and that is good. But would it be wrong if you saw somebody coming to the altar or going forth from here singing the communion songs with the congregation, or smiling, or with an expression of joy and gratitude? Of course not. What we experience here every single time is nothing short of a miracle. The Son of God gives Himself for us over and over again. Added to that, it is a feast of anticipation of the joy in Life eternal, when we will all be together around His table to share meals into eternity.[2]

Holy Communion is for you. Not only for your little moment before the altar here, but for you to carry into your daily life, in the senses that the Jesus you meet at the altar will go with you. It is with you in your car, and house and life. He will continue to strengthen you and save you. He is the strength you need to power through another day or to leap for joy after another win. The fact that you know this is true, real, and salutary strengthens your faith and makes you confident that there’s no place you may find yourself at in which His presence cannot be there, even before you. Christ’s Supper is for you. For today. All the way.

Cc – Life happens in places. In that place, the Upper Room, on that dreadful but blessed night, life happened to the disciples for Holy Supper brings us life. As we approach the table of the Lord, we receive forgiveness and life. We are strengthened. We are renewed in our faith and in our daily life. The Table of the Lord. In every place we find ourselves at, the promises from that Upper Room echo in your ears and hearts, placing us in His hands of care, comfort and hope.

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[1] Terry Defoe.  “Joyful Remembering “ Available at: https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/maundy-thursday-pastor-terry-defoe-1-cor-11-joyful-remembering

[2] In the Lord’s Supper – in this “Lutheran altar call” as some have called it – we re-affirm our faith in Christ and we again remember his promises. God remembered his promises to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob. He remembers his promises to you and to me. In Romans chapter 8, verses 32 and following, the Apostle Paul says: 32 qHe who did not spare his own Son but rgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than yconquerors through zhim who loved us.(ESV)” Pastor Terry Defoe.  “Joyful Remembering “ Available at: https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/maundy-thursday-pastor-terry-defoe-1-cor-11-joyful-remembering

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