Maundy Thursday Reflections

Date: April 2, 2015

Title: “Head Over Heels in Love”

Preaching: The Rev. Donna M.L. Pritchard

Scripture: John 13:1-17, 31b-35

            A couple of days ago I went into Safeway to get a salad for lunch. On my way out, I got to chatting with a store employee who was laden with huge bags of old flowers, on their way to the dumpster. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Too bad they didn’t sell”

He: “Yeah, I guess they’re getting ready for Valentine’s Day or something.”

Me: “Oh, probably Easter – this Sunday.”

He: “Yeah, Easter… As far as I’m concerned, Easter’s really just for the kids.”

Me: Silence. Thinking…

What could I say? Easter – a story of betrayal, arrest, torture – nailing Jesus to a tree until he dies. It’s hardly a; story just for the kids! Which is why we gather on these days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It is why we are here tonight, supporting and encouraging each other as we remember the central story of our faith.

The old designation of this day is “Maundy” Thursday. Now “Maundy” is a form of the word “mandate”, so that we could call this “Mandate” Thursday, or “Command” or “Demand” or “Order” Thursday. This word play makes it difficult to miss the point that a part of our story is about something mandatory, not optional. To observe this day of all days is to recognize we have no choice but to respond to Jesus’ command given at that last meal with his friends, to love one another. 

            Now I know it is hard sometimes to love one another, to love entirely each other’s entirety – warts and wounds, foibles and failings, gifts and graces and all. We imagine we can love each other if we just forget the little annoyances, or een the big differences between us.

Yet if we are to love as Jesus loves, we have to go beyond forgetting to the kind of remembering which is more than simple recollection. As if we could forget Jesus until we gather at the Communion Table to remember him; as if we could remember Jesus by calling to mind the things that he taught, the places he visited, and the people he healed. As if that is all Jesus asks when he calls us to the table tonight.

Jesus is not asking for a simple recollection. He is asking us for a “re-membrance.” Jesus is asking us to put him back together, to take all that he gave us in the things he taught, the places he visited, the people he healed, and to reconnect his loving with our serving.

In John’s Gospel the story of the Last Supper focuses not on bread and wine, but on the washing of feet. For John, there can be no real re-membering without loving; there can be no recollection without serving. And to follow Jesus means to be “head over heels in love.” It is to be utterly and completely in love with God, to be utterly and completely in love with God’s creation, to be utterly and completely in love with one another. To be head over heels in love is to live a life centered on God, grounded in God’s love – even when God’s love turns us upside down, or when God’s presence fills us inside out, or when God’s Spirit pushes us beyond forgetting to re-membering ourselves and one another.

I have always like the way Andrew Lloyd Webber puts it in his song, “Love Changes Everything”:

Love, love changes everything – hands and faces, earth and sky

            Love, love changes everything – how you live and how you die…

            Love, love changes everything – days are longer, words mean more

            Love, love changes everything – pain is deeper than before.

            Love will turn our world around – and that world will last forever

            Yes love, love changes everything – brings you glory, brings you shame

            Nothing in the world will ever be the same.

Talk about being head over heels in love! Talk about re-membering Jesus in what we DO, not just in what we say or what we recollect. When we meet at this table on this night, it is our pcroclamation that because of Jesus, because of God’s love and power in Jesus, nothing in our world will ever be the same. The song continues:

Off into the world we go – planning futures, shaping years

            Love comes in and suddenly – all our wisdom disappears

            Love makes fools of everyone – all the rules we made are broken

            Yes love, love changes everyone – live or perish in its flame

            Love will never, never let you be the same.

            Love will never, never let you – or me – be the same. Not on this Maundy Thursday, not ever again. Thanks be to God! Amen.

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