It’s been one of those weeks. Jesus has been all over the news, in one way or another. Whether in documentary form, docudrama, or the news; his name and his presence have been invoked at every turn. Jesus seems to be everywhere. Yet, is it him? Certainly, people are talking about him. I’m not so certain everyone is on the same page. It’s easy to talk about Jesus. However, it is very difficult to gather in a small room and sit down at a table, face to face with Jesus. With that degree of intimacy, we cannot hide. We are forced to be honest with Jesus and ourselves about the meaning of this evening. We come here not to speak, not to put words in his mouth, or to talk on his behalf. We are here to listen to him. What does Jesus want to tell us on this night?
He wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”. Why does he want to say this? We are never more vulnerable as people of faith than we on Maundy Thursday. This is the night when our worlds will spin so far out of control. They’re already headed in that direction. Our natural instinct will be to reach for something to control, a decision to make, or a person to hold onto. Those things that we think we know and rely upon aren’t going to be there. To this table, where we are gathered, we bring this crumbling charade of control. Beside the chalice of wine and plate with the bread we dump our garbage, junk, mess, and general personal chaos. Jesus, on this night, when the world seems to be spinning out of control, you see us for who we are and what we are. We are never more vulnerable than when we come before you at this table. We are a mess.
For some reason, despite the mess we’re in (and the mess you’re in) we are here together. You’re with us, at this table, in the midst of our overwhelming messiness. Jesus, we can barely understand yesterday. We have no way to put words or thoughts to the immensity of tomorrow’s events. Yet, there is something about the present which you are telling us to transform into a new way of living. It’s all wrapped up in what’s on the table. In the good memories we take in and the bad we leave behind; this table is the place where we realize the ugly memories of our lives do not define us in the eyes of Jesus. We do, in remembrance of Jesus. It is not, “what we have done”. It is at the table where we see Jesus most clearly; can we embrace the aching vulnerability to make that same sense of clarity a two way street?
How do I know Jesus wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”? John 15:12 and beyond seems to answer this question clearly. Jesus tells his disciples to love one another as he has loved them. They are to take care of each other and love one another. In verse 15, he goes one step farther, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends.” He calls them friends. In the hours before his death Jesus calls his disciples friends. It’s a strong enough statement to be recorded in John’s gospel. We are friends. We share this table. In our vulnerabilities, flaws, darkness, and light, this is the space where the memories of yesterday become the ministries of tomorrow. This is where everything gets left. Take nothing home but the grace of God.