Sermon from St Edward’s / MT 2022
Readings: Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11.23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Every Holy week we enter into an act of remembrance that has been repeated many thousands – if not millions – of times, the world over. Our worship resounds with the voices of those who have sung and praised before us; our prayers rise with the countless prayers that have been said and recited in the past and the present; we share communion as Jesus taught us too, gathered as part of a church spanning the ages and the world.
And tonight as we begin our Triduum we are part of an even bigger history that was begun between God and the Jewish people, which we believe Jesus was the fulfilment of, and that we continue to share and honour – and as we heard our readings took us through that narrative.
We read in our Exodus passage of the first Passover. The story, as I’m sure you know, is that God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Eqypt, under Pharoah’s tyrannical rule. God sent various plagues to convince Pharoah to let his people go, but pharaoh has hardened his heart more times than we might care to count. But The Passover was the final straw, the final great act against his evil.
Just as Jesus’ death is the final triumph over the evil of death.
Jesus, we believe is the fulfilment of the Jewish scripture, the long awaited Messiah. We believe that he was the new sacrificial lamb, just as each family prepared an unblemished lamb in sacrifice, Jesus was perfect too, just as the amount of food they were to prepare had to be exact, so Jesus was enough.
Just as the doorways were marked out with the blood of their sacrifices so we too as believers are marked out with the blood of Christ. Just as the blood on the doorposts was a sign to keep people safe from death, so it is for us, victory against death is ours too, given eternal life by the blood of Jesus.
Just as God made a promise, a covenant with the people back then, so Jesus gives us a new covenant as we heard in the Corinthians passage, a new agreement with us, a covenant instituted on this night we remember today.
So you see we are part of something so much bigger than we can ever hope to understand the enormity of.
And we continue to share that narrative into the future for those who will come after us. As we remember Jesus with thanksgiving every time we share the bread and the wine, we continue this memorial into eternity.
But more than that, when we act in love we are continuing he work of Christ. A new commandment instituted at that last supper – going beyond the Jewish laws that there were already, he added:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13: 34-35
By this, by the love you show, just as Jesus did, by this simple thing people will see Jesus in us.
When Jesus washed his disciples feet, it might seem strange to us, but back then with dusty unmade roads used by animals, carts, people, most wearing sandals, feet got so dirty and unpleasant. It was the lowest of low jobs for a servant to wash people’s feet as they entered into a house. The worst job ever. When people came through the door of a house they were washed clean, able to leave behind the smells, the dirt, the uncleanness from their feet and enter into hospitality fresh.
And that’s what Jesus did for the disciples, took the lowest of positions to show them how they should be when he was gone. They were shocked, Peter saying no Lord! Never! He was their teacher – Rabbi, they called him Lord, he could not be such a low servant. But they had to see Jesus do it to realise this was their calling too.
And Jesus goes on doing that for us, washing us free of the smells and the dirt, the grime, the darkness, the shame, the thigs we’ve done wrong so that we can walk into his hospitality clean and fresh, free from the dirt we carried with us from the road of life.
We are called, especially today, to be people who remember we are part of a much bigger story. A narrative that began long before us and will go on long afterwards. In a way we are custodians of it if you like. We continue to remember, to share bread and wine together, inviting others in to join with us and become part of the ongoing story. And we do so by being people who love, who show Christ’s love in all we do, to all we meet, serving the least and the lost, just as Jesus showed us.