Picture: Communion service with New England United Methodist Conference, Garden of Gethsemane, February 2020
"Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
As many congregations observe Maundy Thursday, remember how many services obey so closely Jesus' instructions at the Last Supper:
First, the act of foot-washing often follows the sermon, taking the place in the service sometimes occupied by reciting a Creed. How notable to replace declaring faith with words to declaring faith with actions! "I by my works will show you my faith" (James 2:18).
Then, the next part of the service might be Holy Communion. How quickly after an act of Christian service do we need the refreshment of grace at Jesus' table! In this era of pandemic, New Hampshire churches are doing extraordinary and miraculous acts of loving service. Let us never forget to return to God to receive the spiritual graces we need to keep that service going: "Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Finally, friends, we need be open to encountering God's grace in new ways. During COVID-19, many of us are prevented from gathering at the Lord's table together to receive what Jesus gave us tonight. United Methodist pastor Rev. Dwight Haynes recounted this story about his experience marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the March 25, 2015 issue of the Concord Monitor:
It was very warm. Without breakfast, some people fainted. I remember getting a sip from a gallon jug of Kool-Aid being passed along. Later, another black neighbor from one of the shacks by the side of the road passed along some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For me, it was the miracle of sharing re-enacted, an experience of Communion I shall never forget.
Church, Jesus' command to love others as he loves us is weighty. You are doing much right now to show your faith by your works but never neglect to seek the grace of God to keep us going. Even though we cannot now gather at the Lord's table, we can trust that God will provide sufficient grace in surprising ways so that we might continue to "walk and not be faint."