Part and Parcel Proclamation

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Part and Parcel Proclamation

April 14, 2022*

(Maundy Thursday)

By Pastor John Partridge

Exodus 12:1-14                      John 13:1-17, 31b-35            1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The term, “part and parcel” is redundant.  This term is first found in the 1500’s as a legal term with “part” meaning a small portion of a larger whole, and “parcel” meaning something that was integral to a larger whole, which is essentially… a part.  So, both things, although subtly different, mean the same thing and, in our often-confusing English language, add emphasis when used together.

The reason I bring up the definition and origin of the phrase “part and parcel” is that as we read the stories for Holy Thursday, and remember the origins of communion, and the eucharistic meal shared at the Lord’s table, we discover that there is a deeper meaning to what some people think of as only a symbolic act.  There are pieces of our act of communion, much like the cogs, springs, and gears inside of an antique watch, that are “part and parcel” of the celebration, even if we sometimes forget that they are there.

We begin by remembering the oldest parts of our tradition, the origins of the Jewish Passover feast, that we find in Exodus 12:1-14.

12:1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lambfor his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

I circled three things when I read that passage this week.  First, God instructed Moses to tell everybody in the entire community.  Second, the blood on the doorposts of their houses would be a recognizable and outward mark of belonging, and third, that even after the angel of death had passed over them, the community was instructed to repeat the commemoration of that day for generations to come as a means of remembrance.  And they did.  Not just for a few generations, but for thousands of years.  And that is the celebration of remembrance that we see in John 13:1-17, 31b-35, as Jesus and his disciples share their Passover meal together.

13:1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

31 Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

While Jesus and his disciples share the Passover meal together, Jesus begins to wash their feet, an act that was typically done by the lowest ranking servant available.  It was an act of the utmost humility and Peter wasn’t having it.  Peter refuses to allow Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus explained that the humility to wash feet, as well as the humility of accepting it, was part and parcel of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  Being a follower of Jesus was not, and is not, possible without not caring for one another, but it requires that we have the humility to serve the people around us. 

And Jesus also adds one more piece to the whole, one more part to the parcel, and that is that his followers must be so loving of one another and the people around them, that love becomes their distinctive brand by which others recognize them.  Let me say that again, our distinctive brand, the thing that the world recognizes in us as belonging to Jesus, should be by how much we love one another and the people around us.

By no means, should the followers of Jesus Christ be ordinary, or blend in with the people around us.  Because of our connection to Jesus, and because of his connection to the celebration of Passover, there is one more thing that stands out, and Paul explains what that is in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

And so, obviously, this last thing that Paul says marks us as the followers of Jesus Christ is the meal that we share together this evening.  Our shared eucharistic meal, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, is not just a symbolic representation, and not only a moment when we meet God personally, spiritually, and emotionally, it is, like the lambs blood on the doorposts of Passover, it is a visible and outward sign of proclamation to the world that we belong to Jesus. 

But none of these things are supposed to happen in isolation.  We should never find one without the others.  They are part and parcel of a greater whole.  Those of us who share communion, and who claim the name of Jesus Christ, must not be followers of Jesus Christ in name only.  We must not be Sunday only Christians, or Christmas and Easter Christians, but instead we must be 24/7/365 Christians.  We must not be ordinary or blend in with the world around us.  We must proudly wear our distinctive brand and love the people around us with a love that is extraordinary, unusual, compassionate, passionate, costly, and downright crazy. 

If our love is so grand and so unrealistically generous that people begin to call us stupid, then we’re only starting to get it right.


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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page.  Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio.  Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you.  Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601.  These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership.  You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org  These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.com .  All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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