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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

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Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

MAUNDY THURSDAY 2009 SERMON (FINAL)
We have not come today to mourn Jesus.
We are not here to dwell on his betrayal which we know will come this night.
We are not here to dwell on mobs with swords, torches and clubs or the flash of steel or severed ears. Of friends, disciples, running away in fear worried more about their own lives than the life of Jesus. No. We are not here to dwell on fervent prayers in an olive grove or sweat like blood or sleeping disciples who can’t seem to stay awake. We have not come to dwell on Jesus’ doubt, though we may in time dwell on our own.

We are not here to dwell on the meal in the Upper Room, on the betraying hand that shares the bread broken and shared, the body of Christ, or on the blood, on the cup of the New Covenant. We have not come tonight to focus on those things, as important as they are.
We have not come tonight to mourn the moment of the Last Supper, the final meal shared between Jesus and his disciples. No.

With a name like Maundy Thursday, we may think what we hear in the name is something like “mourning” you know – expressing grief at a death. Tonight isn’t about grief – it is about the commandment of Jesus. Maundy Thursday takes its name not from ‘mourning” but from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “new commandment.” Maundy Thursday is not about mourning, grief and loss – it is about a commandment from Jesus. A new commandment. The last commandment delivered at the most opportune of times.

So we need to pay attention.

Hear the words of Jesus:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Let those words hold you captive for a moment:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jessie sat in her wheelchair with an afghan on her lap – you know, one of those colorful ones made up of dozens and dozens of small squares connected together, made with great care and patience. The afghan draped from her lap to the floor. “Do you like my hair?” she said. And indeed, her hair had that “just back from the beauty parlor” look about it. “It’s lovely,” I said. “My daughter does it for me,” she quickly added. “And my nails, too.” Her hands, old and delicate, sported carefully manicured and polished nails. “Let me look at you,” she said. Jessie kept chatting, always trying to keep my attention away from her feet, which she had lost to diabetes. The afghan hid this from view and never left her lap when she was around other people. “Do you like my hair,” she said again. “Yes,” I said, “It’s lovely.”

Because today is about the commandment to love, today is also about feet.
In John’s Gospel the story indicates that there is a meal, but we get no further description of it.
What we do get is well over a dozen verses about the washing of feet.
And a New Commandment.
Love one another.
As Jesus has loved us, we are to love one another.
That's how people will know that we are Jesus' disciples: We love one another.

What does that love look like?
If we were going to paint a picture of that love – they say a picture is worth a thousand words - what would that picture look like?

For Jesus, that picture is framed by water, dirty feet and a towel.
That is the paradigm - the picture we commit to memory - the act from which all of our acts of love are given birth - the mother of all of our love for one another: Jesus on his knees holding a pair of dirty feet and gently splashing the water and drying with a towel. The perfect picture of the love that we are called to imitate today is holding someone’s feet in our hands and washing them.

But how do we take this picture, this humble act, this idea of becoming the servant of servants, and make it our own?

Jessie lived in a room on the medical floor. Each Sunday the interested residents would be gathered from the medical floor, most of them in wheelchairs, and brought to the community room for a worship service. Jessie was always ready on time, her hair perfect, her nails just so, with her afghan on her lap and a string of pearls around her neck. A volunteer, herself as old as the residents, played old hymns on the piano as they arrived, a prelude of memories: Amazing Grace and Trust and Obey, Beautiful Savior and In the Garden and so many more. In the Garden was their favorite, number one in their songbook for weeks and years beyond counting. As the first chords of the song plinked from the old piano, volunteers began to go from one resident to the other wheeling them in their wheel chairs, dancing in time to the music and encouraging everyone to sing. Jessie’s face, like so many others in the room, lit up as a young man carefully danced her around the floor, wheels going this way, then that. Slowly her hands left the afghan wrapping around a memory, her eyes closing, lost in the moment.

For some, the washing of feet becomes the washing of hair or manicuring nails or crocheting an afghan or helping someone dance early on Sunday mornings. How we love as Jesus loves will likely be different for each of us, yet also the same – born of the unconditional love, humble and gracious, that was done one night long ago in an Upper Room on a night forever remembered.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Amen.

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