Monday, April 27, 2009

Sermon for Year B Maundy Thursday

A glass of milk

Frederick Buechner writes in his book Listening to Your Life:

"If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter
and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party.
The world says, Mind your own business,
and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success,
and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified.
The world says, Drive carefully---the life you save may be your own--- and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The world says, Law and order,
and Jesus says, Love.
The world says, Get,
and Jesus says, Give.

In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot,
and anybody who thinks we can follow him
without being a little crazy too
is laboring less under a cross
than under a delusion."

The world says…
Jesus says…
Tonight--this Maundy Thursday--is the last time
the disciples will be able to listen directly
to what Jesus says.

When I worked in children’s museums
we had a phrase we used that guided our design and program work.:

I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.

I don’t think Jesus had ever been to a children’s museum,
but I do think he uses this same wisdom
throughout his ministry
including on this holy night with his disciples.

The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum
and it means “mandate” or “commandment”.
Tonight is the night when Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment,
a new covenant.
Love one another
Just as I have loved you.

Love one another by serving—
wash each other’s feet.,
take care of each other,
take care of those who have no one to take care of them.

Love one another by offering all you have and all you are—
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup…
Do this
In remembrance of me.
To remember the love we share
To remember the God we share
To remember the world we share.

Jesus was not just a talking head.
Jesus constantly and tirelessly was doing.
Healing. Listening. Feeding.
Washing feet.

And Jesus always sends the disciples out to go and do likewise.
Heal. Listen. Feed.
Wash feet.

Jesus wants them to live their faith.
Jesus wants us to live our faith.

There is a place and time to expound upon theology and doctrine,
but what the world needs more and needs right now
is a full and abundant showing and showering of love.

Annie Lehmann is the author of a book titled
The Accidental Teacher: Life Lessons from My Silent Son.
Her son Jonah is autistic.
When he was only 3 years old
Annie and her husband were told
that Jonah’s autism was “untreatable.”

But Annie and her husband were also young and energetic and hopeful.
They made Jonah the focus of their lives—
They felt if they could make every experience a teaching session,
every communication exchange a lesson—
they would be able to bridge the developmental gap
for their son.

Because Jonah loved food
Annie shares that whenever she went to the grocery store
with her young son she would point out colors (red apple)
and shapes (round cookie).

But Jonah always turned away from their teaching efforts.
They tried vitamins, restricted diets, communication boards,
sensory integration therapy, they tried everything.
But for Jonah each hope they had
was followed by disappointment.

Annie writes,
“We might as well have been chasing butterflies with a torn net.”

Finally—finally after Jonah was in his teens—
and Annie and the rest of the family were worn out and frustrated— finally they decided to let go of their checklist of goals
They decided to let Jonah enjoy the things he enjoyed
without their projected expectations of accomplishment.

This loving mother recalls how Jonah as a little boy
had a low tolerance for reading but he liked it
when she would sing books to him.
Once she sang the story of Cinderella,
As Jonah rolled about on the floor,
seemingly oblivious to the story.

Still, his mother felt she needed to involve her son in the story
so she left a sentence for him to complete…

“The clock struck 12,” she sang off key,
“And Cinderella ran down the palace steps,
leaving behind a glass….”

Jonah continued rolling on the floor
as his mother waited for him to say the word “slipper.”

And at last he completed the sentence for his mother: “…of milk.”

Leaving behind a glass of milk.

Annie Lehman says she never hears the story of Cinderella
without seeing a glass tumbler filled with milk
sitting on the palace steps.

“Jonah turned 25 last fall,” his mother writes,
“and when I look at him
I can’t help wondering
if the past years weren’t some heaven-directed scheme
meant to humble us
and teach us the value of acceptance.
that we couldn’t change him
has changed us.”

The world expected a Messiah that was so different than Jesus.

Even his very own disciples expected him to any day now,
start acting like that king of kings they expected.
Even today
We sometimes try to make Jesus “fit” into our world,
Our ways of doing things.

But Jesus always offers a glass of milk and not a glass slipper.
And Jesus calls us to act and to offer and give and to do.
To do everything in remembrance of him.

To love one another.
To take the bread and the wine and know that God is with us. Always.
To share all that we have and all that we are.
To humble ourselves
and wash the dust and dirt off the feet of the world.

We may not be able to change the world
but we ourselves will be changed.
By him and with him and in him…
we are transformed.
All through the power of love.

No comments: