Tonight is different


A Sermon for Maundy Thursday; Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14, Psalm 116:1, 10-171, Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35, Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 26:26-30 Luke 22:14-23


Tonight, is different.

Tonight, is a Passover remembrance.

Not quite 3500 years ago the Jews in Egypt slaughtered sheep, smeared the blood on their door posts and lintels, so when the Lord strikes Egypt, each Jewish home will be passed over. The night is marked as a perpetual remembrance as the first month of the year.
For all generations, since then this night has been a festival to the Lord.

Tonight, is a night to remember.

Tonight, is different.

Jesus has been anointed by Mary.
The Jewish authorities are plotting to kill Lazarus,
whom Jesus raised from the dead.
Jesus has made a spectacular entry into Jerusalem; all Judea is following him.
Some Greeks sough Jesus out. The authorities are right,
the whole world is following Jesus (John 12:19).

Tonight, is different.

The world is different.
Judea is different.
Jerusalem is different.
Is it possible this is what it felt like in Goshen in Egypt all those years ago?
Who knows.
Maybe it does.
Maybe it doesn’t.
What matter is that tonight is different.

Tonight, is a night to remember.

Tonight, is different.
It is the remembrance of the remembrance,
even if the traditions are no longer in synch.

he took bread, …  gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:19-20).

            Tonight, we do this in remembrance.
But more than this, because tonight is different.
Tonight, Jesus becomes the servants to servants.
Tonight, Jesus washes servants’ feet.
Tonight, he washes their feet, that they may wash each other’s feet,
that in perpetual remembrance all generations to follow
will wash each other’s feet.

Tonight, is different,
the remembrance of washing each other’s feet awakens the remembrance
that we are known as followers;
as people of The Way,
because we love each other;
we love each other enough
to wash each other’s feet.

Tonight, is a night to remember.

Tonight, is different.

There are no lambs to slaughter.
There are no door posts nor lintels to smear with blood.
Oh, there is slaughter enough,
enough blood will be smeared from wars and insurrections,
from school hall ways, to street corner disputes,
from abusive homes, to rage at those who are different.
And death will take its toll,
fathers and mothers,
sons and daughters,
friends and lovers,
confidants and amigos
have and will die.

Tonight, is a night to remember.

Tonight, is different.

Tonight, we share blessed and broken bread.
Tonight, we share the blessing poured out in the new covenant.
Tonight, one way or another, we humbly submit to being washed,
accepting the most divine love given us that we may share it with all the world.
Tonight, is different.
Tonight, is a perpetual remembrance that eternal life
is incarnate,
is sacrificed,
is resurrected,
is ascended,
is right here, right now and will be, as it has been, eternally present.

Tonight, is a night to remember.

Tonight, is different.
The world is the same
Judea is the same.
Jerusalem is the same.
The United States is the same.
Washington is the same.
Arkansas is the same.
Little Rock is the same.
Mississippi County is the same.
Blytheville is the same.
But tonight,
is a night of remembrance, of washed feet, broken bodies, and blood shed,
forming the covenant of universal eternal divine love.
And therein is the hope that tomorrow and all that follows will be different.

Tonight, is a night to remember,
that tomorrow
can be
will be



A Sermon for Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35, Psalm 116:1, 10-17

Jesus you have given us everything we need. We have seen the signs and wonders, you have done. We are amazed at your quick wit, and by your subtle grasp of Moses’ law. Jesus, we are continually astonished by how you reach back to retrieve a long buried meaning of God’s word. Sometimes we are more than a little frightened by your confrontational style especially when you take on the Pharisees and Sadducees.

And Jesus, you know we are a bit confused by some of your teachings; especially when you speak of your relationship with God; or when you mention being lifted up; and all this glorifying God’s name stuff; not to mention your ranting on about rebuilding the Temple in three days. All these teachings are complex, they are hard to grasp.

Nonetheless, Jesus, we are exuberant. Remember the thunderous acceptance you received as you entered Jerusalem? You looked so much like a triumphant Legatus entering Rome.

We are so hugely hopeful that you really are the Messiah, descended from David’s royal line even if you have never really acted like it.

And now Jesus, at the celebration of the Passover Supper, the memorial of God’s mighty act to free us from Egyptian oppressions, now is the perfect time. Act now Jesus, free us from Roman oppression. Act now Jesus, and everything will be restored to its proper place. Israel will be the center of God on earth, you will sit on David’s throne, and we -well – we will be your top advisors and ministers. Act now Jesus, and all will be as it is supposed to be, as it has been written by the prophets.

What is this Jesus? You are washing our feet? Yes, we know Peter is over reacting, but Peter always over reacts. But still, we don’t get this Jesus, help us out here. Please!!

What? You will only be here a little longer? Where are you going? we didn’t quite get that. Besides, you can’t go now! All is ready, you all but said so. What? what do you mean we can’t come with you? Where haven’t we been you? We’ve been all over the place with you Jesus! even through Galilee. 

A new commandment?  All right, we knew it finally marching orders. Give us your commandment Jesus!

What?? love? love each other? like what? like you? like you love us? just now, by washing our feet. This really is how you want everyone to think of us!!

Oh my!! You really do expect us to wash each other’s feet. You really do expect us to love each other. You really do expect us to love the others. Oh my!!