Archive for the ‘Maundy Thursday’ Category

This is a night of remembering.

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

StMarks1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This is a night of remembering. Most of us remember this text from 1st Corinthians, which is the earliest account of the Last Supper we have. We have heard it hundreds of times in the sacred liturgy and it is part of our ingrained memory.

This is a week of remembering for Christians throughout the world, a kind of mental pilgrimage. We recall the irony of Palm Sunday, the ominous last supper of Jesus with his disciples, the agony of his death on Good Friday, and the joy of Easter Sunday. There will be many pilgrims in Jerusalem these days, visiting the sacred sites, including the Cenacle, the traditional site of the Last Supper. Tonight, millions of Christians throughout the world will be revisiting this site if only in imagination and in quiet meditation.

The somberness of this night perhaps gives rise to some personal memories: perhaps your first communion, or the time you went to the altar full of doubts, participating in a ritual that meant little more than empty repetition. But irrespective of what was going on inside, you were drawn to there by Christ to receive grace and a strengthening of faith.  You may recall the last time you communed with a loved one and you may remember that time when you knelt at the altar with a heavy burden of guilt and shame on your shoulders and you went away with lighter step: forgiven, healed, given new hope.

What were the disciples remembering that night two thousand years ago? The ‘Last Supper’—the expression has an ominous ring! Something is coming to an end, and Jesus’ followers are swamped by a fearful uncertainty. Except the one thing that is crystal clear, that Jesus is playing right into the hands of the authorities. It’s crisis time-the time has come.

The disciples are surely remembering how Jesus has hinted at a painful parting from them when he has spoken of the necessity of his death. Now he eats with them in the framework of the Passover meal, which requires the death of a sacrificial lamb. And as he presides over the meal, one thing becomes clear: This is a farewell of soughts.

He is about to die.

“My body given for you…my blood shed for you. Remember me.” This dinner is prelude to a death, his own.

St Paul makes the context of our Lord’s words of institution quite clear. He begins by recalling that the meal took place on the night Jesus was betrayed and then ends his account by speaking about proclaiming Jesus’ death.

The first will be last and the last first. From death comes life and as said so well be St. Augustine:

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is the see what we believe. That day will come when all is made clear and we will understand the unblemished mysteries of God.

Tonight we partake in a mystery of God. A gift of God for us here on earth from heaven above.

‘Do this in remembrance of me’ does not mean that we are to cast our minds back to the distant past and remember who Jesus was. The Eucharist is not the repeated last rites for a fallen hero. We don’t remember a martyr who died for an ideal. Remembering here is not visualizing the terrible events of Holy Week: betrayal, false accusations, farcical trial, brutal torture, mockery and death.

The wonder of this holy meal is not that it represents the past, but that it re-presents the past. That is, what our Lord gained for us by giving his body and blood in death for us is made a present reality as we eat and drink. Even better, Christ the Son of God, our crucified Saviour is himself present for us.

As we participate in this sacred meal, God is saying to each one of us: I did this for you. This sacrifice is for you. You are not asked to make yourself worthy of the gift. Just take, eat…take, drink. Do nothing more than receive in faith.

Again, our Lord didn’t institute a funeral wake but a continual re-presentation of a joyful celebration of his presence with us. Even tonight, on the Eve of Good Friday, it is still the meal of joy as it celebrates not only a saving death- but a Easter life and that is why we can repeat the cry of the early church. Come, Lord Jesus!’

As we remember Jesus we are re-membered into him. We became members of the body of Christ by baptism, as the life-giving Spirit united us with him in his death and resurrection. In the Eucharist, in the mystery in which past, present and future are united, we are again membered with all the saints on earth and in heaven into the one body of Christ, his church. His past, present & future are ours.

Tonight as we eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus, so too does God the Father also remember, because in this celebration we hold up to the Father the perfect atoning sacrifice of Christ and in faith we claim that sacrifice as ours, and so yes: with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify his holy name evermore praising him and singing, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth are full of your glory.

In faith we recognise the  glory of the one who comes in the name of the Lord and in faith, we still see that glory even in the broken body and the blood out-poured.

This experience of glory as redeeming love carries us to a fuller vision of God’s glory out in the world. The one whose story we recite, and proclaim which becomes our own story as we discern God’s power and presence in all the contradictions of life: where hopes are dashed, dreams frustrated, and when injustice seems to triumph over justice-because this through bread and wine we remember the larger vision of Christ’s return, and through His body and blood of Jesus does come the larger reality that as we remember Him, so too does He remember us-for now, and for eternity.Amen

Failing to have a go

Friday, April 5th, 2013

“The only failure is failing to have a go”

Maundy Thursday.

 

Depending how you look at it, precedents can be a good thing or a not so good thing. We’ve all read or seen the situation in a court of law where the judge passes down judgement taking into the account of a precedent set from an earlier case,and giving consideration to the precedent set in Cyprus this week where in-order to re-structure two of the large struggling banks,deposit holders with over 100,000 euros (123 AUD) will be “taxed” at 30% of the balance I would say many in Europe, if not further afield may be a little nervous as they look at the current financial deficit and financial woes on their own shores.

I am certainly not an expert on this, the Cyrus situation nor the term “run on the banks”, but it does ring in my ears as should something cause a run on the banks, being something that gets customers acting in fear and withdrawing funds in plagues proportions there is no bank that would survive if they were the target of such a run, and one financial commentator even remarked that “what has taken place in Cyprus is like the EU holding up a sign almost pre-empting it”. Mind you with the seemingly daily occurrence of massive sink holes opening up around the world it is not just money that’s going down the drain, but houses, cars, people and yesterday in Tasmanian-even a horse.

Tonight’s readings explain to us in today’s world of a precedent we live under today in and through Christ. In the Old Testament reading we heard of the Exodus, the freeing and saving of the Israelite people from bondage under the Pharaoh of Egypt.As you know God having heard the cries of His people enlists Moses, a man who had previously fled for his life from Egypt is asked to return on God’s behalf and ask for them to be set free. Moses having made enemies in Egypt in all the wrong places combined with his own lack of self-belief thought that maybe another maybe more suitable, but as we know, God knew what he was doing and “sorry brother but you’re the man for the job”.

After nine plaques had been bought on Egypt without result, God brings the last, the Passover, where each family outside of God would lose it’s first born to death. The Passover that was to become an annual festival for Jewish families to observe to remember the deliverance God brought about for his people enslaved in Egypt. Where the blood of a lamb or goat sprinkled on the door frame saved the readied and believing people from the death which was visited upon every Egyptian family. The Passover-of the angel of death, who ‘passed over’ those homes who had marked themselves as God’s people. The punishment of God upon the Egyptians enabled the Israelites at last to leave. The strict observance of detail in preparation and partaking signified God’s complete commitment and the people’s reception of life and liberty solely from his hands in sincere repentance and the Passover continues annually to remind Jewish families of their need for deliverance from sin through the substitutionary blood of the lamb.

The night before Jesus death our Lord desired to partake of the Passover with his disciples, and after they had completed the customary Passover celebration, he gave them bread and wine saying that they should take, eat and drink, for this was HIS body and blood, given and shed for them for the forgiveness of sins and when we join in Holy Communion, like the disciples we have the same promise from the Lord as we eat the bread and drink the wine and we receive that same body and blood together with the same blessings he won through the cross.

In tonight’s Gospel John does not deal with the Lord’s Supper, concentrating rather on the farewell teaching of the Lord in the upper room. It could be said that the radical action of the Master doing menial service in washing his followers’ feet expressed symbolically what was coming in his death the next day. He had taught that he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. The lesson, however, is pointed. They are to serve each other in like spirit.

The love shown in his act and his death calls for the active love enjoined in ‘the new commandment’ to love each other as I have loved you, and that’s quite a precedent for us to live up to. When people find out I am a pastor sometimes the most interesting subjects come up and often those subjects regard understanding the world we live and in one such discussion with a medical Doctor I mentioned that a person I knew and believing of impending danger had chosen to fall by his “own sword”.

This Doctor had a heavy overseas accent that was at times hard to understand but I did understand his thoughts on this when he said “that is never the answer. Some of Western countries are soft, where I come from you are always in danger and if they have gun, I have two guns, if they going to shoot me, I shoot them first”.I’m not even sure why I went to see him but when I left his logic made me smile, not really because of what he said (although his take on one’s own pre-emptive death is most certainly right), but it made me smile because of who is was said by-a doctor of medicine and that being the case, no wonder the apostles were confused when Jesus came to save God’s people not as a warrior as they expected, but as the sacrificial lamb.

Jesus on Maundy Thursday was preparing his apostles for what was to come by conducting both foot washing and the Last supper. Two acts that stood for what he was all about, serving both His Fathers will to save humankind and his own will that in his name we serve others. God and Jesus often seem to come from “back to front land”, where they do things opposite to what we would and Jesus dying of the cross opposed to the “If they going to shoot me, I shoot them first” is certainly one.

On that Maundy Thursday, Jesus washed his apostle’s feet and said “to love each other as I have loved you” and the next day gave his life. That night the apostles did not fully understand. Three days later upon the resurrection of Christ they did. Before we knew what Christ did for us we did not know what those words truly meant, we do now. We know that an innocent man, the Son of God no less, willingly died a horrific death that should we trust in him, we are saved. Forgiving others who have hurt us, standing up for those persecuted, helping the afflicted, not placing judgement of those different from us and trying to let a little of the light of Christ shine through us to “love each other as he loved us”.

God, how could we not at least try?

 

Remember that special meal?

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

 

 
On this night when Jesus gathered his disciples for this last meal before his suffering and crucifixion, he imparts the greatest gift for those he calls to follow him. He transforms this ancient meal of eating and drinking into the source of forgiveness, healing and life for the millions and millions of human beings he would call after his resurrection until his coming again.

There is nothing quite like sharing a meal with family or friends. It is just what seems to hold us together as families and as friends. What would life be like without shared meals- BBQ’s, dinner parties, picnics, restaurants? What would the day be like without dinner time and that opportunity to take a breath and maybe catch up with the day’s events – especially for those with children? Human life is lived around shared meals and the blessing they bring to everyday life.

We cannot thank the Lord enough for his special meal. What a thing to do for us! He knows us and he knows about shared meals. By setting up a special meal he did something that would always binds him and his people together.

For thousands of years since that great night of mighty deliverance from a life of oppression and death under the Pharaohs, God’s people shared this special Passover meal with his people. The Passover was the pinnacle of sharing a moment with God for Jewish people. As they shared this meal and retold the events of God’s saving work for them to their children and their grandchildren, God shared the meal with them and blessed them year by year and they remained connected to God and his blessing and care for them.

And then God’s Son, Jesus our Lord, made this old meal even greater and made it into something for his new people. He changed it. He kind of super-charged it! This meal had always been special but now it had super-charged elements. This was no longer a meal of a roasted sacrificial lamb and bread and wine, but a meal of THE sacrificial lamb – his own body and blood!

Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes way the sins of the world by his own slaughter, now shares his own holy body and blood in bread and wine with his people and they are made holy and acceptable to God through it and they are charged up to live out their new life in the world through this meal.

What a gift – a regular sharing in Jesus’ holiness and healing through the very human activity of eating and drinking.

What a mystery- the holy body and blood of the risen Jesus in the very everyday stuff of bread and wine.

We can struggle a bit with this meal because it is a mystery received by faith and we never really intellectually understand it. We like to rationalise everything and get to the bottom of it. “How is the bread the body of Christ and how is the wine the very blood of Christ?” we ask. “How can this meal give me forgiveness and healing and life here and now – it’s just a church ritual?” we might sometimes think.

This meal is a mystery and so it is only fully shared in faith. Faith in what God says about it. It is what God says about this meal that is the key thing. Not what we believe or do not believe, not what we want it to be or don’t want it to be.

What is this meal according to God? It is the body and blood of Jesus. That’s what Jesus says about the meal. “This is my body; this is my blood”. It is a meal. It is where human beings eat and drink with the Lord of the whole universe on a regular basis.

It is a meal set up by Jesus himself. He is the host of the Meal and the meal itself! Jesus is the meal. He is the beginning and end of this meal. It is all about him giving something to us. And what does he promise to give at his table to those who put their faith in his promises? He says “broken for you for the forgiveness of sins; shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”.

This meal is a meal of forgiveness. It is a meal of reconciliation between God and his people. It is a moment when God imparts his holiness and life by taking away our sin and giving us his new life to ingest into our very souls and carry with us. As Jesus gathered his often troubled disciples for this meal to encourage them and give them a gift for the rest of their life with him, so Jesus still gathers in his people and gives them the gift they most need to live this Christian life – forgiveness and peace with God.

But the meal can be mistreated. Judas was present at this meal and we know his actions before, during and after this meal. This is a meal of humbly receiving God’s promise of forgiveness of our sin and healing for our souls.

But even if a person comes to this meal with no faith in God’s promises, no humility, no recognition of sin in his or her life, does that mean that this special meal ceases to be God’s special meal? What if the minister presiding over the meal is unrepentant of his sin or less then humble concerning his life before God? Does Jesus pull up stumps and get out of there because there is a sinner at the table? No. Just like everything else in the Christian faith – like the Lord’s Prayer or Baptism or the Word of God, so this meal and what God makes it by his promise does not lose its value or power if we don’t believe it or participate in it with faith in God’s promises.

No, God says that in this meal he gives forgiveness, healing, freedom from sin and evil and life itself to those who come to it in simple faith to receive these things from him. A believing heart is all that is required.

But even those who come to the meal without faith receive something because this meal is still very much God’s meal. The unbelieving, unrepentant heart can only receive God’s judgement at this meal. That’s whySt Paultells us to be careful how Christians receive God’s meal. We examine our life, our hearts in line with God’s Word. We let God speak into our life and invite his Word to examine our hearts.

And how do we know we are ready or worthy to receive Jesus’ forgiveness in this great meal? A simple trust in those wonderful words “given for you” is enough. When God says this is all for you for your well-being and continuing life in him, then this meal is indeed for your well being and continuing life in him. If God says that by sharing in this meal you are blessed and restored, then you are blessed and restored as you eat and drink the meal.

As we go from here into the Easter season, let our prayer be the words of the final verse of hymn 285:

For thy consoling supper, Lord,

Be praised throughout all ages!

Preserve it, for with one accord

The world against it rages.

Grant that Thy body and Thy blood

May be my comfort and blest food

In my last moments. Amen.

Remember that Night?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God’s new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.”

A Night to Remember

     In my travels I have visited some of the great battlefields in Europe. While walking through countryside that was once a place of death – a place where so many people lost their lives – it’s impossible to not be moved by what had taken place on what are now green pastures.
In the town of Ypres there is a special arched gateway with hundreds of thousands of names inscribed on it – soldiers who had disappeared during the battles and whose remains were never found. Every night at 8pm buglers play the last post, calling everyone to remember those who died from all countries defending their town.
Recently we heard the news that the wreck of the HMAS Sydney had been discovered on the floor of the ocean. This ship sank after a battle with a German ship and all 648 crew members were lost. We have seen on TV families of the crew holding photos of their father or grandfather or uncle and remembering the person whose life had been suddenly cut short.

Remembering people and their deeds of the past is an important part of our lives. We remember with deep appreciation the part that someone has played in our lives.

Sometimes we have what we might call “keep sakes” that help us remember. It may not fetch much if you sold it but as far as you are concerned it is one of your special treasures. Every time you look at it you remember the very special relationship that you had with that person. This is especially so if that person is no longer present with you. Even though death has intervened in your relationship with that person, these “keep sakes” make the memories of that person real and alive.

When Jesus planned his departure from his friends on earth and thought of those who would be his followers throughout the centuries, he wanted something by which they would remember him; remember what happened on the first Good Friday and the reason why he came. And so he gave us a “keep sake”, you might say – the Lord’s Supper.

One of the important aspects of Holy Communion that we emphasise is the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. As we eat and drink the bread and wine we are eating Christ’s real body and blood sacrificed for us on the cross. In a wonderful way our sin is forgiven and our faith in God’s love for us is made stronger.
Our relationship with God is renewed and our hope for eternal life is strengthened as we eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood. As we eat the bread and drink the wine in Holy Communion it is as if Jesus is personally beaming all the love, forgiveness, hope and faith directly on to us from heaven. He says this is “for you” and gives it to you with so much love.

There is another aspect of Holy Communion that I want to especially emphasise tonight. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper to help us remember.

He first celebrated this meal just before Judas betrayed him to the temple guards in the Garden of Gethsemane. In an upper room, he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. He took a piece of bread and gave it to his disciples to eat, and said, “This is my body. Remember it was broken for you.” He took a cup of wine and gave it to them to drink and said, “Remember that my blood was shed for your sins.”The Passover was and still is a special time of remembering how God chose his people from the beginning of time and how he led his chosen people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. God wanted them to remember the way Moses challenged the great Pharaoh of Egypt to let God’s people go, and the series of plagues that were sent to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites.

God wanted his people to remember how he broke the stubborn resistance of Pharaoh with the warning that the first born in Egypt would be slain. There was only one way to escape this death. Each household was to kill a lamb and put some of its blood on the doorposts of their houses. The flesh of the lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When the angel of death saw the blood on the doorposts he would “pass over” their homes and those inside would be safe.

The Israelites did as they were instructed and they were kept safe that awful night. The wailing of mothers who had lost a child was heard throughout the land of Egypt. Saved by the blood of a lamb, the people of Israel left Egypt.

God said, “This day shall be for you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.” Still today, faithful Jews celebrate the Passover at this time of the year and thank God for their deliverance by the power of God.

And so when Jesus and his disciples and all their fellow Israelites celebrated the Passover they looked back and celebrated the fact that without God’s untiring, never-failing love for his people they would have been left for dead in the Sinai desert somewhere. When they celebrated the Passover they recalled with horror the slavery in Egypt, the lash on bare flesh, the scorching heat, working till they dropped. But they also recalled with great delight how God in his love saw them in their anguish and came to their rescue. They remembered the daily supply of food that fell from the heavens, how the cloud led them during the day, and a blazing fire at night – this whole fantastic story of how God rescued these complaining, grumbling, disobedient people is a sheer miracle.

Not only was the Passover a time of recalling, but it was also a time of thanksgiving and celebration. They praised God for his love.

Tonight we are remembering, celebrating and thanking God for his love. We are not celebrating the Passover, the feast that celebrated God’s rescue of his people from slavery in Egypt, but we are celebrating a “new Passover“, our rescue from slavery to sin and death. Jesus gave us a special meal to help us remember, he gave us his body and blood to eat and drink with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins, and to help us remember the great love that he has for us.

This “new Passover” gets its meaning from the cross. Jesus gave his body and blood on the cross for you and me. He did it because of our desperate need to be made right with God. He did it because we are caught in slavery to sin and we can’t do anything to free ourselves. Like the slaves in Egypt we are unable to free ourselves from this slavery. Our situation is desperate. If nothing is done to free us, we would all die as slaves to sin and death. God was prepared to go to any lengths to save us because of his love – even send his only Son to give his body and shed his blood on a cross.

As we eat and drink we remember the new life that Jesus has given us – to love one another just as he has loved us. We remember that just as Christ was a servant who knelt to wash the disciples’ feet he commands us to be servants of one another. We are reminded that in the body and blood of Jesus we are bound together as his dearly loved chosen ones whose key responsibility is to love another. Jesus said at the Last Supper and he says this to us tonight, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34).Tonight we join with Christians the world over raising our voices in thanksgiving as we celebrate Holy Communion. In fact, one of the names used around the world for Holy Communion is “Eucharist”, which means “thanksgiving”. Like the Israel of old we thank God for his love and mercy, but unlike the ancient Israelites we have seen God’s love at work in ways that has far outshone the Exodus event. We have seen with our eyes of faith the love of God at work freeing us from sin and death through the agony and dying and rising of Jesus.

We receive bread and we eat with it the body of Christ. We drink wine and hear the words: “This is my blood” and we remember.
We remember with regret that it was our sin that led to Jesus’ death on the cross.
We remember with repentant hearts that our lives have not demonstrated Christ living in us.
We remember with thanksgiving what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection.
We remember with joy that our sins are forgiven.
We remember with anticipation when we will gather around the heavenly banquet table.
We remember in celebration that we have been given a new life to live as disciples of Christ.

Tonight we remember and celebrate the powerful love of God that has made our salvation possible. Tonight is a night to remember what it cost God to bring us forgiveness and eternal life. Tonight we remember and give thanks!
Amen.

I will wash you.

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I will wash you John 13-1-17

There are times, perhaps when we have been working in the garden, or painting, or fixing the car, that we get our hands so dirty that they don’t come clean after washing them.  We can scrub and scrub, but to little effect; the dirt has actually stained our hands.  Over time the stain will vanish and our hands will once again be clean.

At the Last Supper, the Passover meal, where the disciples were eating the sacrificial remembrance meal, Jesus gets up and takes off his outer garment, grabs a towel and a bowl of water and washes the disciple’s feet.  Either, one of the disciples has really smelly feet and the odour was ruining the meal, or Jesus was making a spiritual point by washing the dirtiest part of a person’s body.

Of course we know there was more to Jesus’ foot washing than just trying to clean some dirty feet.  Otherwise he would not have interrupted such an important and religiously significant meal with such an un-dignified display.   The Passover meal drew the Jewish people back to the time of the exodus, the night of the Passover.  By eating a specially sacrificed lamb they remembered the night the blood of a lamb was spread on the door posts to protect the people inside the house from the angel of death.  When the angel saw the blood, he passed over the house and the first born male was kept safe, but all those without the lamb’s blood, had their first born killed by the angel.

Jesus deliberately used the significance of this meal to demonstrate the cleansing he was about to accomplish by his blood on the cross.  Every person, man, woman and child, you and me, are stained with dirt.  Every one of those disciple’s gathered with Jesus were stained with dirt.  No matter how much we wash we remained stained, not with physical dirt, but with the stain of sin and death.

Like when we cannot seem to get a stain out of our hands, we cannot get the stain of sin out of our lives; it is a mark that remains with us forever and taints everything we do and say, as Jesus said in Matthew 15: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean.‘  The stain of sin is at our core and if left, separates us from the holiness of God.

Jesus washes the disciple’s feet to demonstrate that he will be the one who will wash their sinful hearts, just as king David pleaded and prayed for many years earlier ‘Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Peter however, rejects the washing because he feels Jesus should not wash his feet, that would be humiliating for him, but Jesus replies, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”… “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  The external washing of the disciple’s feet pointed to Jesus’ washing of our hearts that will clean them from the stain of sin once and for all.

The cross was to be the washing instrument and Jesus’ body and blood serve as the cleansing agent through whom God would clean the world of sin, death and the devil.  By washing the feet of the disciple’s, Jesus shows how he must be a servant of the world, a lowly cleaner if you like, just as foretold in Isaiah 53; ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.’

Just as the blood of the sacrificial lamb saved the people of Israel and brought them out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus blood saves us, cleanses us and brings us out of slavery from sin, death and the devil and brings us into God’s presence, as Jesus said ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’  While Judas would have no part in it and left the room, by faith in Jesus word’s Peter allows Jesus to wash his feet, and he was cleansed.  By faith we allow Jesus to wash us clean.

By faith we trust that his blood has washed us, ready for heaven.  By faith we allow Jesus to be our servant, humble and gracious towards us, washing our conscience by his word and blood and serving us with his body and blood in his Holy meal, as the writer of Hebrews says ‘let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.’

We have been cleansed by Jesus and tonight, as I wash the feet of some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded of Jesus servant hood; his expression of love that saw him die in our place to make us clean.  Yet there is something else important demonstrated in this foot washing.  With Jesus in us by faith, we also become servants to one another.  Just by being cleansed ourselves, we are able to cleanse others through acts of love and forgiveness.  We can wash each other by choosing not to bring up past hurts or past sins committed against us.  By the power of God’s word and the Spirit’s encouragement, we can choose not to habour anger and bitterness against each other.

We can also wash each other when we speak, read, sing and pray God’s word to each other.  Jesus is present in his word, therefore his is present washing through the word, as he promised ‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.’ A disciple is really being Jesus’ co-cleaner, who’s only work is to be humble and a slave, to bring cleansing to others through the justifying  word of Jesus and to live humbly themselves as they also seek forgiveness from Jesus and other Christians for failing to do this very thing.

This is what it means to love one another and this is what Jesus offers us.  As you experience or witness the foot washing, we will sing to each other the very cleansing words of Jesus ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

 

Amen