I LOVED this sermon! Enjoy as you prepare for Maundy Thursday!
A Sermon for 17 April 2014 – Maundy Thursday
based upon John 13:1-17, 31b-35
If tables could talk, what stories would they tell?
Would we hear tales of families gathered round for Christmas dinner and Easter brunch? . . . Would we hear of a rule that insists at least five out of seven – or, if nothing else, one night every week the whole gang is required to take their seat together. Let the cares of this crazy-busy world pass by for 20 or 30 minutes, as together food is enjoyed and stories of the day get told – the glads and the sads both – and lives get shared with one another. . . . We’d hear of tables once crowded with children and a beloved spouse now painfully silent with one left to eat alone. . . . We’d hear it – though I wish we would not – of tables that never groan under the weight of a hefty feast; for that table’s family barely can scrape by. . . . And that one too often is surrounded by vicious shouting instead of the sounds of harmony that should come from a home. And underneath that one has become a haven for a frightened child whose only parent is struggling with addiction or mental illness, or both, or worse. . . .
Tables may be where we do our homework, or write our sermons, or pay our bills, or browse the web when we’re bored. Some tables are the site of game nights, and baking parties, and letter-writing campaigns. Some tables hold the harvest fresh from the garden out back, while others know nothing but frozen pizzas and fast foods. . . . Tables in the homes of our Jewish brothers and sisters this week have been the site of the ancient Passover feast, now called the Seder – adorned with the two finest candlesticks, the lamb shank in remembrance, the wine those who are free can enjoy, and even the open spot for Elijah symbolizing the hoped-for future of eternal peace. . . . Tables – tables! What wonderful sites! . . . Maybe your table is where you kiki with friends, or gossip harmlessly with neighbors, or dream big dreams with God. . . . Tables might be where we learn to: eat our broccoli, and make peace, and begin again. . . . Tables can be the site of separation – where goodbyes are said; and they also can be where strangers first become friends. . . . Around tables we might sit by another through heart-breaking sobs, or raise a glass in celebration of this miraculous journey called life!
At tables some need to hide the reality of who they are, as the others gathered round can’t accept the truth. At tables some need to keep silent for safety’s sake; while others bitterly find themselves no longer invited. . . . Some Holy Week tables for the first time are missing a beloved pastor or anticipating it will be their last. . . . If tables could talk, indeed, what stories would they tell?
Tonight THIS table is front and center; ready for us to come gather round. And on this night, at the first table of our Lord, as he prepared to face all that lie ahead. As he predicted betrayal and knew another would deny three times. As he readied himself to be abandoned by every last one that scattered in fear of death. . . . We’re told in the gospel of John that loving his own – around that table – he loved them to the end. Taking a basin of water and a towel, Jesus knelt at the feet of his friends. In an act of great love, the Master took on the role of the servant. The Teacher humbled himself to perform a most intimate act. The Son of the Most High knelt down before sinners to wash every last one of our feet. . . . Even as he held them in his hands, he knew we wouldn’t walk faithful to his way – not always; and for some of us, not ever. . . . But that table attests: the Savior of the world enacted a new commandment. “As I am doing,” he said, “do likewise. Love one another.”
Thanks be to God, tables can talk. And this one has such a powerful story to tell. For even on the eve of his death, he loved us. He provided for us. He showed us. He loves us to the end. . . .
Let this table speak to you tonight, as in great thanksgiving, in humble awe; we come to taste and see – and ever after proclaim – the amazing goodness of our God!
In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.
© Copyright JMN – 2014 (All rights reserved.)