Maundy Thursday—Year C—March 28, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.
Tonight we gather together.
We gather as the Israelites gathered as they prepared to leave Egypt.
We gather as Jesus and his disciples gathered that fateful night in Jerusalem.
We gather together to pray and praise and eat a meal.
We gather together to eat a meal as we prepare to head into the wilderness.
The Israelites ate as they prepared to leave the wilderness of slavery, but they were heading into the wilderness of the desert.
The disciples ate as they somewhat unknowingly prepared to enter a wilderness, a night one marked by betrayal, fear, and loneliness.
And we gather and eat in the midst of the wilderness of Lent—the wilderness of Holy Week.
As we face the reality and imminence of death, we do so together, gathered in God’s name and surrounded by God’s promises.
But we do not gather just to eat, to be simply physically fed and nourished.
We gather to eat—to eat in a way that proclaims.
It is not just our words that proclaim the mystery of faith—Christ has died, is risen, and will come again.
It is our actions that proclaim Christ’s death for us AND the deliverance that goes along with it.
Just like God delivered the Israelites through the wilderness into the land flowing with milk and honey, God delivered Jesus from the grips of death, so that we too might be delivered from the grips of sin and death.
But not before leaving us with a new commandment, one that can make this life a little more like the kingdom of God.
We can say all we want that we are we are one unified body of Christ.
We can tell people that God loves them, forgives their sins, and promises them eternal life, until we are blue in the face.
We can say that we are welcoming church and that we are all equal.
But it is another thing to actual enact those words—to proclaim those things, the Truth, with our actions.
Words can go unheard.
They can be misunderstood.
They can be in the wrong language, but action is more universal.
It is when we gather around the table together to eat of the loaf and drink from the cup, at the same time as many others are all around the world—and when we stoop at the feet of another to wash their feet with care—that we enact the radical hospitality—the love for one another—that Jesus models for us and then encourages to put into action ourselves.
It is then that we are transformed into the body that we eat and are empowered to proclaim the power of the blood that we drink.
It is then that we embody the love of God and are truly the body of Christ, the family of God, inheritors of the kingdom.
So even when we do not fully understand how it all happens, how bread becomes body and wine is blood, or how all God’s promises could possibly be true, or even how Christ rose from the dead for our benefit, we can still follow the command: “take and eat” and “love another.”
And it is when we are uncomfortable or we do not want to participate, that it might be the exact moment that another member of the body will feel God’s love through us if we participate—when we show them radical hospitality or let them show us that love for one another that Jesus talk about.
For where words fall short and logic falls short—mystery dwells and actions proclaim. Amen.