Homily for Holy Thursday 2018

The Last Supper by Sieger Koder
Homily for Holy Thursday
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily

In a world of driverless cars and virtual lives,
in a culture in which many communicate
more online, wirelessly, than in person,
in such a world we begin our celebration of the paschal feast
by returning to the recipe, the menu and the dining directives
the Lord gave to Moses to give to the Israelites,
thousands of years ago:
directions for preparing a lamb to be sacrificed,
for marking door posts with blood,
and directions for what to wear when eating this meal.

We begin here because there is a truth revealed
in these curious instructions from God:
a truth about God’s love for us and his desire
to rescue us from the foolishness of our sins.

The Lord tells Moses to tell Israel,
“Mark your homes with the blood of the sacrificed lamb,
and the angel of death, seeing the blood, will PASS OVER you
and no destructive blow will come upon you...”

Oh, for a jar of that sweet, saving, shielding blood to sprinkle
on those who are in harm’s way tonight.

Oh, for a jar of that healing, merciful, grace-filled blood
to mark those whose bodies are wracked by illness and pain.

Oh, for a jar of that cleansing, liberating blood
to wash away memories that haunt the abused and the aggrieved,
to free us from anything that shackles our spirits,
hobbles our progress, impedes our growth
or addicts our bodies, our hearts, our imaginations.

We return to this text from Exodus and its curious directives
not only because God’s people (first Israel and now us)
not only because we’ve done this every year at this time,
but because, as of old, God continues to call us to know his desire
to protect, shield, deliver and save us from our sins -
and from death itself.

For us, the people of the new covenant in Christ’s blood,
it is no longer a lamb for every household, but now,
the One Lamb for all households, for all time.

No longer the marking of door posts
with the blood of slaughtered animals,
but now the more intimate anointing and bathing of hearts
in the blood of the one Lamb, slain once, for all, for all time.

No longer to feast on the flesh and blood of a sacrificed animal,
but now a simple meal of bread and wine,
become the Body and Blood of the one Lamb,
Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sins of the world.

We need not pine for a jar of the blood from Exodus
for we have a cup, a sip, a taste of the same
in the meal we share at this altar.

Those who ate the first Passover supper,
came to that meal hungry, weary and in need of deliverance.

This night, we come to Christ, who is our Passover,
and like Israel of old:
we come to this table weary of our troubles
troubles in our homes, in our nation and in our world;
we come here troubled in mind and heart
by painful relationships and hurtful memories;
we come to this table needing deliverance
from whatever ties us down, holds us back, enslaves our souls,
shackles our freedom, imprisons our happiness.

In the Blood of the Lamb of God we are promised deliverance:
an exodus from all that holds us captive.

We come to this table to feast on the Christ, the Lamb of God
who takes away our sins and the sins of the world.

Freely he offered his life on the cross
that we might have life and have it to the full.

Freely he offered his body to be broken
that we might be healed and made whole.

Freely he poured out his blood
that our thirst for life might be satisfied.

Freely he suffered as the victim, standing in for us,
that the burden of our sins might be lifted from our hearts,
off of his shoulders.

He asks but one thing in return:
that we love one another as he has loved us;
that we serve one another as he has served us;
that we give of ourselves as he gave for us;
that we allow ourselves to be broken, poured out and shared,
as was he for us.

Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Sieger Koder

By a blessed coincidence of calendars this year,
Passover and Easter fall within days of each other.
The Jews keep Passover, their memorial feast,
a perpetual institution for all generations
and we Christians celebrate Easter,
the death and rising of Christ
who is our Passover for all generations.

John’s gospel of the last supper makes no mention of bread and wine,
but rather centers our attention on the washing of feet:
so real a manifestation of God’s love for us is Jesus’ humble act, here.

Even as we countenance the world’s problems and our own;
even as we bear the burdens that weigh on our hearts tonight;
even as we struggle to be freed from what enslaves us;
we wash each other’s feet
because this is what Jesus did and told us to do,
on the night before he died,
on the eve of our Exodus, our deliverance from sin and death.

When we were lost and could not find our way,
God loved us more than ever.
Jesus, innocent and without sin,
gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a Cross.
Yet before he stretched out his arms between heaven and earth,
in the everlasting sign of his covenant,
he desired to celebrate the Passover feast
in the company of his friends.

And as they gathered for that meal,
Jesus bent down and washed his friends’ feet.

Tonight, we do the same, in memory of Christ Jesus
who is our Passover, who is our lasting peace.



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