March 29, 2018 – Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday March 29, 2018

**************************

Reflection

Lent began, Ash Wednesday – with the sign of ashes on our brows in the shape of a cross – and the taste of ashes in our hearts – the cries of those slain that day in Parkland, Florida ringing in our ears – with tears of families, friends and people everywhere joined with them in weeping and prayer… Reminded so starkly of our human condition… And the depths of our need for God.

Others, around the world, also suffer… just as deeply… But there is something in the loss of a child… that breaks our hearts beyond words…

If life lately sometimes feels as if we’re at the end of the world – with the world in disastrous breakdown and perpetual crisis… Probably this is how life felt for Jesus and his first disciples also… that first Holy Week… As if time flowing in all directions – past, present, future all intermingled – as if the world has already ended…  With God our Father’s beloved child… dying on the cross…

Yet, Jesus and the apostle’s tell us – this is not the end – this is the birth-pangs of God’s new world coming into being… and…

We’re not even formally at the cross till tomorrow – though Jesus has been talking about himself on the cross all the while we’ve been with him… We have see him there already… from many angles…

As we’ve journeyed with Jesus through his wilderness temptations and testings… As we’ve journeyed with him vicariously through his years of ministry in Galilee, Judea,  Samaria… And into the holy city, Jerusalem, where Jesus spends his last week, Holy Week, teaching – making ready disciples – to continue his work when he is taken up – lifted up – from among us.

Now, tonight, we’re with Jesus at his last supper – hearing again his last instructions – as he prepares to return to God the Father.

Jesus reminds us – eat this bread, drink this cup. Eat my body, drink my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.

We’ve been reminded by John the gospel writer (as we’ll be reminded by other apostles) – the good Shepherd of the sheep is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – also the bread of life who came down from heaven to give life to the world. Mixed metaphors abound with Jesus.

Eat this bread, drink this cup. Come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread, drink this cup. Trust in me and you will not thirst.  The Word of life is also the bread of life. We need Jesus in our heart, mind and soul. We need Jesus bodily also. We need his life, his teaching, his presence with us in our flesh and blood…

Jesus has prayed to God the Father we’ll all be one. (He’s even told us we’ll do greater things than he’s done, together. Which is only possible because he will still be with us…) Together we are the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. Called and blessed to keep making Jesus real for all the world that God still so loves… despite the world’s denial of God and Jesus…

Tonight again we’ve renewed our vows to follow Jesus all the way to the cross and beyond. With trembling and trepidation, knowing the story of his first disciples – who swore they’d follow to the death – yet fled that first Holy Thursday… leaving Jesus alone as police and priests arrest him…

Yet – even knowing the past, even knowing our weakness – still, by faith, by grace, with much prayer – we have renewed our vows to trust and believe in Jesus. We’ve renewed our vows to faithfully participate in Christ’s church together. Renewed our vows to love one another, as Jesus has loved us. Renewed our vows to stay with Jesus – remain with Jesus – watch and pray with Jesus… all the way to the cross… and beyond…

I’m thanking God for each of you – each of you is an answer to Jesus’ prayer, as he  prays – Stay with me. Remain here with me. Watch… and…  pray…

May the grace and the love of God in Jesus Christ be with you – (be with us all –) guiding, sustaining, fulfilling God’s will for us – in the deep peace of God…  All the way to fullness of Life and Love with Jesus. In Jesus’ name. 

Amen.