Love is the Answer


The Pas Maundy Thursday
Year B
18 April 2019

Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Oh God,
on the night he was betrayed
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples
and gave himself in a meal of bread and wine.
May we who celebrate these signs of his love,
serve and give ourselves to others
in his name and to your glory;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord is beginning a new thing, tonight.

Have you noticed?

This is his last night with the disciples. This is his last chance, before the drama of the Passion and Crucifixion, to spend time with those whom he loves, and he knows even this time is limited.

So, knowing that your time is limited, knowing that those you love need your words of wisdom to pull together amid the tragic events that will follow what would you do?

Or, say, to give those you love one last lesson of how to look out for each other, and to live the lessons the examples that have taken a lifetime for all of us, not only to learn but to live to the world around us?

“3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.” (Jn 13:3-4)

And we know the rest.

In the midst of an early celebration of the Passover meal, Jesus does a new thing – he, the host of the evening, the patriarch of the meal, in more ways than one, washes the feet of his apostles.

Once again, Jesus sets the example of how we’re to live out our lives of faith, in service to each other, and to our neighbour in need.

Once again, he tosses our expectations on their ear by setting us the example of washing each other’s feet because Christ himself has washed our feet.

He sets us an example of how to love our neighbour that has no choice but to catch our attention because it is so different.

And here we are, once more, facing something new.

The passage from Exodus, for tonight, points out to us that Passover was, at one point, something new, when the plagues of Egypt were about to come to a dramatic end with the deaths of the first born children of each household. And looking at that scenario, the Hebrew people needed something really dramatic in order to break out of the generations long pattern of being slaves, and to show them that God is truly a God of love who has been reaching out to them for a long time.

So, to start that new thing, to save the people of Israel, God commanded the Passover.

Tonight, in the upper room, surrounded once more by death, by life, by endings and by beginnings, Jesus commands a new thing, a thing he demonstrates with his whole body as he kneels at our feet and washing them so that we, too are included in the new thing that Jesus is going, today.

““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.” (Jn 13:12b-15)

Now, you know I like to watch movies, or at least have them playing in the background as I write, and this week was no exception. The movie, this week, was “Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium,” and the underlying theme was of endings and subsequently beginnings.

In this movie we see Mr. Magorium preparing for the end of his life, a long well lived life at 243 years. And in these preparations, he tries to encourage his protégé, Molly Mahoney, to live into the mystery of her own life.

The tale begins by telling us that all stories come to an end, which is ok because it’s an opportunity for another story to begin.

And here we are, tonight. The example is set, the gauntlet has been cast down, and the challenge issued. What are we going to do next?

Jesus knows that his story, his lessons, his teachings his examples amongst us are coming to an end.

He knows that in a few short hours he will be dramatically arrested, that he will be tried, beaten, flogged, condemned, and crucified.

He knows that he won’t see another sunset with these, his closest friends by his side before death claims him.

He knows that when one story rapidly comes to an end, another tale is about to begin, and to this end, Jesus tries to prepare each one of us for the inevitable.

Mr. Magorium tells us: “unlikely adventures require unlikely tools,” and he’s right. The problem being that we focus on the difficulties, the problems, the logistics of the journey instead of the beauty, the joy, the wonder that comes our way every day. After all, Mr. Magorium defines an ‘accountant’ as “a cross between a counter and a mutant,” how much more beautiful and wonderful is that?

So, after washing our feet, Jesus tells us two very important things. First he tells us to do for others as he has done for, and to us.

He’s washed our feet, he encourages us to wash each other’s feet, not just because podiatry is important, but also because that is how we include ach other in this blessing with which God, and Jesus fill us and our lives.

Then he tells us to love one another. “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.”” (Jn 13:34b-35)

And this leads us to another ponder.

In a world that has trouble believing, what is an act of faith that we can demonstrate that shows that God is doing wondrous things because God believes in us, not just our belief in God?

How are we able to live into Jesus command, Jesus example in tonight’s gospel, if the world has difficulties in believing, in general?

And, so, here we are.

Surrounded by God’s love, and Christ’s guidance, facing new things, and new commands to love as we are loved by Jesus, by God.

Here we are, our feet damp from Jesus example of how to serve instead of expecting to be served, knowing how short the time is until Jesus is arrested, and the passion and crucifixion are carried out in their necessary pattern.

So, the question we are left with is how will we live into and live out of Jesus command, to us: To love as we are loved, and by that love, showing that we are Christ’s disciples?


About pastorrebeccagraham

A Lutheran minister serving an Anglican parish in Northern Ontario.
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