“Claiming the Narrative”

Maundy Thursday
Rev. Katherine Todd
Mark 14:12-16, 22-15
John 13:1-17, 34

Mark 14:12-16, 22-15

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

John 13:1-17, 34 

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Fatherhad given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

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.”

Do you ever fantasize about making things right?
Do you ever wish to be able to grab a hold of all that is wrong and fix it?
Do you mourn all that is wrong in the world?
All that is wrong in your life?
All the wrong that has been done to you and around you?

I often fantasize about making the world better.  Sometimes, my fantasies are ones in which I employ every beautiful tool in my personal toolbox to win hearts and remake the world around me.  Other times, I wish for God’s wrath and righteous judgement to step in and remove from places of power and authority all who dare to step in the way of God’s good and right ways.

We all experience injustice differently.  We all have seen things we wish we could unsee.  We have all been diminished, suffered violations, been held back from our fullest potential.  In one way or another we all have grown jaded about certain things – things we can’t seem to change, things that seem rooted in evil and injustice, things that are so fraught with wrong that to remove one wrong would only uncover another and another and another…

These wrongs.  These injustices.  These gross falling from the holiness and wholeness and righteousness of God in our world can get us down.

Way down.

Some of us have felt down for hours, for days, for years, for lifetimes.

We can watch as every glimmer of life ekes away under the weight of injustice and oppression.  We have watched as powers that be make decisions about other people’s lives,…our lives.  We have watched as powers that come and powers that go use and abuse our lives, our needs, for their campaigns, forgetting those on whose shoulders they climbed, after they have arrived.

So much pain.
So much injustice.
So much harm.
So much loss,
Loss upon loss.

And so we cry out with the stones – crying out for justice to roll down like the mighty waters and to cover the earth.

There is much that is out of our control.
Many things happen to us and around us that we cannot change.
Our hearts bleed and bodies ache from the brokenness of ourselves and of this world.

Where is our deliverance?

Jesus Christ too stepped into this world

This world of endless possibility and endless and pain and suffering.

Our Lord Jesus Christ walked a heavy road,

A road of painful awareness of ALL the brokenness and sin and suffering and oppression all around him.

If any have seen a life lost,

A life wasted

A precious life thrown away

Jesus saw more

Equipped with eyes that could see all that one could ever be, Jesus knew that extraordinary pain of loss, seeing life after life directionless, life and after life barely surviving, life after life trying to gain off the sufferings of their brothers and sisters, life after life trapped and caught in cycles and systems of poverty, suffering, and oppression.

Equipped with eyes to see, Jesus was vulnerable to all.  Jesus was not numbed or comforted by his own ignorance.  Equipped with eyes to see, Jesus could see all the beauty and tragedy, all the goodness and evil that stirred deep below the surface of what is seen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was more than “acquainted” with grief and sorrow.
Our Lord Jesus Christ knew suffering.  Knew sorrow. Knew grief, loss, and pain.

And so on the eve of his time of greatest pain, greatest sorrow, greatest heartbreak, greatest loss, our Lord spent an intimate evening with those who knew him best, breaking the bread of the Passover, pouring the cup, washing their feet, and showing them in symbol and in action what he was going to do and why.  He demonstrated love in service, showing us a new way to live and to lead.

And he took back the narrative. 

Because A LOT was about to happen TO him.  Evil and injustice, harm and brokenness were about to take him by the throat and try to choke out the life in him.

He needed his disciples to know that it was NOT a HAPPENING to him that was taking place but rather HIS OWN ACT.

He would choose to go with his armed pursuers.
He would choose remain silent.
He would choose to remain nailed to that tree.

But all that pain.
All that suffering.
All that injustice and flashing evil were not the authors of this story.
All the powers that seemed so in control.  The powers that took it upon themselves to condemn and to kill.  These powers were not in control.

No, this story was God’s. And Jesus had the lead role.
And afterwards, we would finally know and see that all our darkness could not quench the light.
Afterwards, we would finally see that all our evil, could not overcome the good.
Afterwards, we would finally see that all our hate, could not overcome love.

Love was writing this story.
Love was driving this script.
Love was pouring itself out,
without restraint,
without reservation

That we might know how unstoppable, unbreakable, unwavering, unquenchable is God’s love for us.

I don’t know about you, but I need God in this very hour.
I need God to show me again, that evil is not in control,
that our sin and brokenness don’t have to rule and control our lives,
that God is working all things for good,
that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us,
…that there is hope.

I need God to show me once again that light is more powerful than darkness,
That goodness is more powerful than evil,
That love is stronger than hate.

Read this poem from Tyler Knott Gregson’s book, “chasers of the light.”

Mr Roger’s shared a similar wisdom given him by his mother.  Whenever tragedy struck, she encouraged him to look for the helpers. There are always helpers, she said.

There is always grace. God is with us, Emmanuel!  Not just when Jesus walked our dusty roads, but stillliving in the hearts of each one who will make room for Christ. 

May the power of Christ, living in us, reclaim our stories.
Our job is to diligently,
stubbornly,
persistently,
relentlessly,
find the grace.

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