Maundy Thursday

1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Our tendency is to make this a romantic interlude from the cross to the resurrection.  We don't like to dwell on the hardness we are introduced to in the words of the ending of Jesus' life.  We want to make it as palatable as possible and often we jump to the stone rolled away and the empty tomb.  As we have been challenged this Lent to walk the way of the cross I still want to keep our focus there.

Maybe its because of what Paul has to say about communion as being the proclamation of the Lord's death until he comes.  He doesn't pretty it up.  Maybe its because as we look at the reading in John we see that Jesus' betrayer is mentioned twice.  Or maybe its just because the Spirit has moved through many different avenues this week to put me in this direction.

One of the things about this service and these lessons is we are on the cusp of it all ending badly.  Jesus' followers think from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday that great things are about to happen.  This world they live in which is under the governing of a people from far away, who don't know them or care to know the Jews, who are just concerned with expanding their empire and don't care who they crush, they think Jesus will make this all end.  God's kingdom is going to be restored and reestablished and it isn't.

Instead Jesus takes a towel.  The symbol of the unknown and unnamed person and washes the disciples feet.  Now we have almost nothing that can register this to us nowadays.  We don't have servants, we don't have slaves, and we don't wash anything for anyone else. Try to think of it this way.  Jesus is taking the job no one wants, the job in which the provider is usually ignored and not thought of.  The job which is a service to others and they may not want to be the foot washer of all these guests.  Jesus is stripping down and doing that job.  An example to us all.

See we get so caught up in doing good jobs.  Earning the recognition of others, getting awards for excellence, achievement, all the things that lead to success.  We don't look at failure as the route in order to come out ahead or on top.  Yet this is what Jesus is giving to us as an example.  Jesus is not looking to protest and win a battle against the Roman oppressors.  Jesus is not looking to be the most Godly, or best Rabbi.  Jesus is not looking to have hails and hosannas from worldly recognition.  Jesus is saying all he has done, every healing, every welcome, every teaching leads to being the most insignificant person in the world.

Jesus asks us to go out and do this as an example to others.  Jesus asks us to push outside of our comfortable walls and go find the ones outside our doors.  The ones who have lost hope, the ones who are hungry, the ones the world despises and invite them in, give them kindness and God's love.  Ours is not to evaluate who is worthy, who is religious enough, who is deserving enough.  Ours is only to be the servant to others.

Can you imagine it?  A church that goes out and finds the hungry and gives them food.  A church who looks for the homeless and gives them a home.  A church who goes out right now and washes the feet of someone else.  A church who pushes outside their walls and takes the gospel to the streets, to the lonely, to the unknown, to the forgotten.  This is what tonight is about.  This is what the example is for Jesus.  Because we know we are God's and we will return to God.

It is not about fear.  It is not about protecting what we have.  It is about freely giving God's love to a world which is hurting.  A world who knows fear because of a group who lashes out in hate by bombing and killing, a world who knows marginalization because we blame victims and forget to stand with them, a world in which there are those who feel alone and forgotten because we blame them for not making enough to live.  Where is Jesus, can we be Jesus' hands and feet?  Can we be the example he charges us to be? Not because we are going to the excellent, but because we dare to embrace the lost.