Arrests and Re-member-ing: Maundy Thursday

Posted by Autumn Dennis 

I have been to several Maundy Thursday services over the years, but tonight’s service struck a very different chord for me than in the past. For the past few nights, homeless advocates in Nashville have gathered alongside homeless friends in camps around the city. Metro Police have threatened to raid the camps, and there have been recent instances where camps have been set ablaze by police. All day, I have waited to hear word or any sort of report on the state and condition of my friends in the camps. I have followed their posts and updates of staying awake in shifts to keep watch–to keep each other safe.

It is no coincidence that these night watches and raids fall on Holy Week. On this Maundy Thursday, these night watches are incredibly reminiscent of the disciples keeping watch with Jesus through the night as he waits for arrest–our homeless friend Jesus, who had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). Just as Jesus is unjustly arrested, our friends on the streets are unjustly arrested for the crime of existing.

Do this in remembrance of me.

Tonight, as I sat in a Maundy Thursday service at Edgehill United Methodist Church, I meditated heavily on what it means to remember and see Jesus. Maundy Thursday is not only when we recall Jesus’s arrest, but also the institution of the Holy Eucharist as the central liturgy for Jesus’s friends and followers. When Jesus broke the bread and blessed the cup, he said to “do this as often as you can in remembrance of me.” My Latin is a little bit rusty, but the word “remember” always stirs up images of body limbs being stitched back together. To re-member. In the United Methodist tradition, we understand communion elements to not be the literal body and blood of Christ, but that Christ is present in the elements and in the act of communion. In our liturgy before we partake of the sacrament, we declare the mystery of faith:

In remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again.

Tonight, I got chills when we proclaimed the mystery of faith. In that very room, by the gathering of people of faith for the purpose of re-membering the body of Christ, Christ rose in that room. Every time we gather to partake of the holy meal, Christ comes again and again. The body of Christ is stitched back together as we share the bread and wine. The disciples saw Jesus in the breaking of the bread. As Dorothy Day wrote:

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know [God] in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship. We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. (The Long Loneliness)

Whether people of faith are gathered around an altar or a fire in an “illegal” encampment, we re-member Jesus in each other. Even when the powers and principalities continue to arrest Jesus through our friends over and over again, Jesus is risen again and again through the most beautiful act of resistance– community. We are not alone anymore. We are all walking the road to the cross, to the tomb, to the road to Emmaus, together. Jesus needs our company on this long night, to keep watch and pray. Pray and care for your friends on the streets and in camps this night. Amen.


Photo by Lauren Plummer


“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” –Jesus


Today is an important day for remembering those who died eight years ago. In a world where acts of violence, sometimes even comparable in brutality and size to those which occurred on 9/11, are lamentably frequent all around the globe, it is also a good day to grapple with the outlandishness of Jesus’ gospel: what does it look like to love my enemies, to pray for those who persecute me?

To that end, we encourage you to check out the 911 Campaign: Lament Violence, Invest in Peace here and consider learning about and supporting non-violent peacemaking efforts like the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT travels to warring and war-torn countries where they “get in the way” of acts of violence and stand with people who are living in the midst of war zones, thus advocating for and working toward justice, peace, and reconciliation. To learn more about CPT, click here.


Jesus washing foot

On July 4th, Amos House and friends will take part in a celebration. Rather than celebrating “Independence Day”, however, we will be celebrating, with others around the country and world, “Interdependence Day”.

As we all know, Independence Day is a “holy” day in the American liturgy, a self-defining moment in the national narrative. For those of us who take seriously the claim that the crucified, risen, suffering servant Jesus of Nazareth is Lord over all things, Independence Day is an interesting day, to say the least. What does it mean that we are citizens of a kingdom brought into being through a Jewish subversive executed by the Roman Empire two thousand years ago? Where does our ultimate citizenship lie? What conflicts arise between our various citizenships? How ought we—a community of faithful—bear witness to a better way in a culture that glorifies not only violence, but independence from other human beings?

The best way we know to celebrate on July 4th is to bear witness to our interdependence—on God, and on one another. Visit our “Events” page to see more on how we’ll be celebrating. All are welcome. Feel free to email us if you want to join in on the celebration.

NOTE: We’ll begin at the park across from the Nashville Public Library at 3:30 p.m. by washing one another’s feet, and the feet of our homeless sisters and brothers.

(Also, here’s a link that tells how others will be celebrating Interdependence Day)


Amos House Community