Maundy Thursday Sermon

Maundy Thursday 2020John 13: 1-17, 31b-35

Usually at this service on Maundy Thursday, in normal times at St. Marys, we have during the service washed each other’s feet. Easy for some to do, and others like me have found it a difficult task for many reasons. Many of you may have participated but felt uncomfortable, this is what we should do. Without the worry of Covid 19 we had already planned to do things differently this year, to end this service in a different way. To encounter the shadows of Jesus grief and pain. Whatever we feel, it is important to realise the significance of what Jesus did on that final night with his disciples.

“You will never wash my feet,” Peter says to Jesus.

What is going on with Peter, and I suspect so many of us who say the same. 

I think it is about more than having his feet washed. In fact, I don’t think it’s even about his feet. I think it’s about feeling vulnerable, exposed, and uncertain about taking his share in a new life. I guess that there are parts of Peter that he is withholding not just from Jesus, but also from himself. My guess is that Peter has something he wants to conceal, a past that haunts him, a brokenness that terrifies him, a memory that is too painful to deal with; and that it feels easier and less risky to say no, push it all away, ignore it, try to forget it, and hope it will leave him alone. Besides, who knows what might happen if he was to open the door to any one of those things?

I say this for two reasons. Firstly, because I am human too and have parts of my life that I just don’t want to face or deal with; parts of me that I have alienated and exiled; memories and experiences that do not have a seat at my life’s table. Secondly, because I have seen and heard that same thing in the lives of many others. Through ministry, chaplaincy and in the lives of those I care about. If what I am talking about resonates with you, then you get it too. 

Let’s not back down this time, not on this night. This is our night. So let me ask you:

  • What is one thing you have about yourself, something you’ve done, or something that has happened to you? Something you have never uttered to another and that you never want anyone to know. It leaves you in fear of being found out. It’s the kind of thing you wish you didn’t know, the kind of thing you can ignore, but can never forget.
  • What are the memories, hurts, and griefs that are too painful to talk about? The very thought of them makes your stomach churn and your eyes well up. The ones that when mentioned you quickly change the subject about because you’re afraid you’ll just lose it and never get yourself back together again.
  • What guilt, shame, embarrassment, or failure do you still carry? I’m talking about the kind of thing about which you fake a smile and say, “I’m over that. The past is the past and let’s just keep it that way.” But deep down you know the past is a ghost that still haunts you.
  • What are the same old arguments, feelings, and patterns that continue to repeat themselves in your life? The ones that you excuse by blaming someone else or saying, “That’s just who I am,” or “That’s just the way it is.” What’s really behind those things begging to be acknowledged and dealt with?  
  • When have you said, “You will never wash my feet?”, and what’s that really about?

Let’s not back down this time, not on this night. This is our night.

This is our night to take our share with Jesus.

This is our night to bring all that we are and all that we have.

This is our night to eat and drink in remembrance.

This is our night to lay it all on the table. 

This is our night to come clean.

This is our night to strip bare the altar of our life. 

This is our night to let the healing begin. 

This is our night to enter into the shadows of our lives with Jesus as he enters into the shadows of the pain that is to come.

Let us remember that this is our night.

Amen

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