Your altar 38.  Your altar

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;  rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices,  in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”   – Psalm 51:18-19

We come to the end of our Psalm.  As we do so, we harken back to its beginning:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions”  (Psalm 51:1).   This Psalm of David began where we always should begin — seeking and relying upon the loving mercy of God.

Tonight we will gather at BRPC for our Maundy Thursday meal.   We’ll share scripture from the gospel of John in which Jesus washes the disciples’ feet in the upper room.  It would have been unheard of for the host of a meal to wash his guest’s feet.  But here, the Incarnate One embodies his message of self-giving service and love.   Then after our meal, we will go up into the sanctuary for a Tenebrae ‘Service of Shadows’ as, through scripture and song, we follow our Lord to the cross.

Psalm 51 closes with the picture of bulls being offered on God’s altar.   Of course for us at this late moment in the Lenten season, we don’t conjure up bulls, but another image from the words of John the Baptist: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!   (John 1:29)   The one who served with a basin and towel at the Last Supper will now serve and love us by offering his life.  “The Shepherd,” as the anthem goes, “becomes a lamb.”



Almighty and ever gracious Lord,

Gather us together this day around that table in the upper room.   Feed us with the bread and cup.  And then with that towel wrapped around your waist, cleanse us from our sin, wash us from our iniquity so that we are whiter than snow.  And then help us to walk with you on your way to Calvary.