my miscellany

Maundy Thursday, 2018 — 29 Mar 18

Maundy Thursday, 2018

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

On Sunday, Palm Sunday, waving our palms and gathered with the children of the parish, we once again chose Barabbas. Even the shorter form of the Passion requires us to make that choice. Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, compel us to choose a murderer and an insurrectionist over the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The wisdom of the Gospels stands in stark contrast to how we view ourselves. Will we ever get it right?

The answer, sadly, is No. What we can never get completely right is how to live, how to live so that we do not need a Savior. We will never get that completely right though we have our Savior’s example and we have our Savior’s Sacrament to show us the way and to nourish us along that way. If we follow his example and if we feed on him through his Sacrament, we shall not stray too far. We shall not stray as far, say, as Judas who betrayed him and who took money for his trouble. Even if we don’t stray that far, still we need a Savior. For Christ can show us how to live and feed us along the way, but still we need him, because our ability, our might, simply runs out before we live perfectly and live so that we do not need a Savior. Our humanity runs out before his divinity begins.

And so year after year we choose Barabbas. We choose Barabbas because our humanity simply can’t reach as far as choosing Jesus requires. We might as well try to fly unaided from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower.

So, what are we to do? We keep the Feasts when they roll around, seemingly interminably, as best we can, knowing that God who made us knows us and loves us, loves us while knowing our humanity can only stretch so far. For this reason we follow the Anglican or Episcopal understanding of the glory Christ displays when he institutes the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. We wear white, and we sing the Gloria in excelsis Deo. We sing the best hymn of praise we know to thank God for not letting our shortcomings interfere with his love for us. We keep the color white for the purity and perfection of our Lord whose divinity supplies to us what our humanity can’t reach. We remember the words “in remembrance of me” because they were the words he used when he gave us himself, gave us the Sacrament to help us along, to help the very limitation we have which holds us back from growing up fully like him.

And, finally, we accept his commandment to love one another. We do this, because it’s what he did, and it’s what he told us to do. But also we love each other because that’s what our humanity would do if it could reach his divinity—we would be the servant of each other, for that is the way to keep our communion and our community in tact. We could never have found this out on our own. Having his example and the gift of his Sacrament, can we not get that right? Can we not get it right that our bearing one to another, our being the servant of each other, will keep our community in tact and even cause it to grow? We should be able to get that right. The Savior who dies for us wills us to give ourselves to each other. He was willing to die to set us free to do those things that we need to do to bring others into this community. He was willing to die to set us free to do what we can to keep this community in tact.

Maundy Thursday, 2017 — 13 Apr 17

Maundy Thursday, 2017

RCL Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Saint John 13:1-17 and

You heard it in the Passover Charter Narrative from Exodus: “Throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.”[1] But tonight for us Christians is a different night. We celebrate the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament given to us not as a “perpetual ordinance,” but as a “pledge of eternal life,”[2] according to the Collect of the Day.

For me, the difference is tremendous. The Passover looks back at a saving act of God, when the Almighty brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, and set them free, actually and figuratively. The Passover is a perpetual ordinance remembering an act of liberation.

In the Eucharist, instituted by the Lord Jesus within a Passover meal, according to the Synoptic Gospels, we for all time look back to the Offering of the Lord on the Cross, the breaking of his Body and the shedding of his Blood, but also—and this is the tremendous difference—we look forward for all time to the promised gift of eternal life. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we kneel at Calvary even as we look forward to eternal life given to us by the Lord in his self-offering of himself at Calvary. We look back to the gift of his self-offering, and we look forward to the inheritance we have eternally in virtue of that gift.

Of all people, dearly beloved, we are most blessed. We are given in the Eucharist the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.”[3]

I encourage you, therefore, to receive the Sacrament tonight, tomorrow, Sunday, and for the rest of your lives with thankfulness and with humility, that so great a gift has been given to us for the salvation of our souls. With the gift of the Eucharist, we are free to write our own stories, stories of life and of hope, of faith and of charity, and of thanksgiving to God, who became like us so that we might be like God. That freedom has been given to each of us, sealed in the never-ending Sacrament, for time and for eternity.

[1] Exodus 12:14.

[2] BCP, page 221.

[3] BCP, pages 859-860.

Maundy Thursday, 2015 — 2 Apr 15

Maundy Thursday, 2015

Maundy Thursday, 2015
April 2
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Saint John 13:1-17 and 31b-35

What a confusing night this is. Christ gives bread to his disciples and says that it is his body. And, he gives them wine and says that it is his blood. But, the confusion has just begun. A friend and disciple, Judas, turns against Jesus and betrays him, betrays him premeditatively, as an attorney might say. There’s more confusion, still. A friend and disciple, Simon Peter, turns against Jesus without knowing what he is doing. First, he refuses to understand the object lesson: that the love Jesus commands is demonstrated, that love is poured out, as he washes their feet. And second, Peter, without thinking, betrays him by denying him.

With friends like those, as they say, who needs enemies? But those friends are like us. We are like them. For we, also, are more than capable of switching sides. Most of us do it every day: serving him one minute and denying him the next. The confusion we see tonight in Christ’s disciples is the confusion we see in ourselves if we would but look.

And look we shall. Christ will let us look away from him long before he will let us look away from who we are and who we are to him. The mirror he holds up to our faces tonight shows us the betrayal and denial all of us have in our hearts. Tonight, we can see little but confusion in all those around Jesus. We see them and we see us going one way one minute and in the opposite direction the next, like, as he said, sheep without a shepherd.

But the confusion is ours not his. The shepherd is there. The shepherd is here, too. Just as he said he would be, in the bread and in the wine, and in the commandment to love one another. He makes himself known in the Sacrament and in the Love we have for each other, which is really the Love we have for him. He makes himself known just as he said he would. He stays on his steady course. He pours out his love for them just as he poured out water to wash their feet. For the confusion is theirs, not his.

And the confusion has a limit. It ends once that it has wreaked the full extent of its harm. For those who look to him, he makes himself known in the Sacrament and in the Love, and they endure just as he said they would. They endure to eternal life, which he has prepared for those, who, when the confusion ends, still want to be his friends. For the Sacrament and the Love he gives tonight he gives without strings and without conditions. He gives them to you and to me to tide us over, through the confusion, through this life unto life everlasting where he is waiting for us, just as he said he would.

%d bloggers like this: