Obedience and love
These are the themes that, through all the confusion, the discordant sounds of violence, fear and death, emerge clear and unmistakeable this week.
Obedience and love.
Love and obedience.
Supremely, of course, this week we stand speechless as God's love for the world is revealed in Christ's shocking, scandalous obedience to the death of the cross...an obedience that proves to broken humanity, men and women ground down by the pain of living that, despite the evidence of the world, they – WE – are both loveable and beloved.
On Good Friday Christ crucified opens his arms of love for us
“How much do I love you?......THIS much........”
Tonight he shows us this love in simpler ways – ways that we too can aspire to...and invites our obedience.
He gives us his mandate – mandatum – for this is why we call today Maundy Thursday.
We have a mandate from Christ to do as he does.
“You also ought to wash one another's feet”
Christ's mandate, and yet we struggle to obey.
We struggle to live as a community involved with one another's frailty and brokenness.
We find it so very hard to accept the invitation to become intimate with our neighbour, to run the risk of vulnerability, even in the church, which aspires to be the safest of places – and we hang back too, from obeying the command to serve each other. Too often, we leave our mutual Christ-given responsibility for one another behind us when we depart from church.
Working with the children to Experience Easter last week, I rephrased the gospel
“Nobody is too big, too important to do simple things to care for others...”
We're used to the idea of practical care as part of our Christian calling – but it's somehow seems much easier to care for those who are far away than to reach out in love to the person in the pew behind, and so we lose the opportunity to form a deeper community, founded on mutual care and mutual openness to one another.
We struggle, all of us, with accepting care from others...perhaps even more só when we reflect that in that relationship of care giver and cared for Christ is always present.
Are we afraid to let Him come that close?
Tonight of all nights, He holds nothing back, kneeling at our feet and then trusting Himself to us in that precious fragment of bread and sip of wine.
His prayer is that we might all be one...one in faith, and love and obedience...one as His Body on earth...one as we gather round His table.
“Do this in remembrance of me”
“Love one another”
“Eat this bread, drink this wine...be nourished by my life...then live it in the world.”
Our mandate as His Church...tonight and always.