Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday Homily

grace, mercy, and peace to you from our savior Jesus Christ.

today is april fool’s day
and somehow that seems quite fitting for the beginning of the triduum
the three days when we, with much of the church
experience the passion of our Lord

here’s the thing
april fools day is a time when things are turned around,
when we expect the world to surprise us.
(the best prank I ever believed was a couple years ago,
when I heard a radio story about the post office allowing people
to take their zip codes with them when they moved,
like we can take our telephone area codes these days)
of course, it was foolish of me to believe that

and so, tonight we enter into the heart of God’s foolishness
tonight, as the three central days begin
the three days around which our faith is centered
tonight, anticipating the foolishness of the cross
which Paul refers to early in his letter to the Corinthians
Jesus turns social convention on its head

Jesus, rabbi, their leader, the teacher and preacher and healer
the one who so many follow
Jesus, the one hailed as Messiah with Hosannas just a couple days ago

puts on a servant’s apron
moving from most important to most disposable
washes their feet

and then asks, do you know what I’ve done to you?

NO ~ we don’t know what you’ve done
how can we know what you’ve done, when everything you’ve done
is counter to everything we think we know?

you can tell us, or we can tell one another
but you show us, when you bend down to wash our feet
that any explanation is never adequate
only by living the life of a servant
can we truly know the freedom of the gospel

still we turn to God, wondering ~ if I’m supposed to be a servant ~
if I’m supposed to serve others, how do I look out for myself?

God’s answer, called from the cross,
and echoing in the eventually and always empty tomb,

is that we don’t have to look out for ourselves
God is looking out for us
all that keeps us down
all that holds us back
all that turns us in on ourselves
ego, greed, self-centeredness
sin, death, the devil

God defeats it all
turning everything we think we know
unrecognizably upside down
disorienting us just enough

that maybe we can hear the words
in our ears, in our minds
in our hearts, and deep in our souls

your sins are forgiven ~ you are set free

the words reminding us that though we are in bondage to sin
though we cannot free ourselves

we are forgiven, set free, by our merciful God
and that forgiven and set free
we can live this new commandment fully
the new commandment that we love one another

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