Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday 2013 sermon: Remember

Lectionary: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1, 10-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Preacher: The Very Rev. Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

(Extemporaneous sermon preached from notes below)

The 4 cups: the 4 ways God has acted to save:


(setting apart as holy). I will be your God and you will be my people.

2. The cup of DELIVERANCE:

From our bondage to sin. Only God can save. We cannot save ourselves. Freedom from our bondage to sin and death comes from God alone. We don’t earn it, it is a gift from God.

This is a hard truth b/c the temptation is to spend time and energy trying to do the right thing, live the right way, and earn their salvation. But that is impossible. Redemption is from God alone, and it is a gift we can’t and don’t earn.

Our behaviors simply reflect our relationship with God. If we are in right relationship with God, our behaviors will show it – except when they don’t. We are human and we will sin. Which leads us to the next cup.

3. The cup of REDEMPTION:

It is this cup that Jesus takes, and he tells his followers “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood…” as often as you drink it, do this to remember me.

In the Jewish tradition is that this redemption is about family. This word also means “avenger of blood” and it is, by definition, a family member. This family member acts to set their kin free from slavery, paying a ransom, or great price for that freedom.

The traditional image is of a father sacrificing his firstborn son for the freedom of his entire family. Sound familiar?

This cup makes clear that we are children of God. As he is closing his time at dinner with his friends, Jesus said, “Little children, I am with you only a little longer.”

In this moment, Jesus is speaking a divine truth. In him is the unity of humanity and divinity. This is one of the most important aspects of what we believe – that Jesus is fully human and fully divine and THAT is why he is the Savior. It is one of only two dogmas (things you have to believe) that we hold.

Who knows the other? (God is Trinity in Unity)

Jesus is the Father who pays the price, the Son who is the price, and the family for whom that price is paid. At supper with his friends, Jesus said, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Jewish theologian Tim Hegg says, “ The redemption of Israel from Egypt is no less an act of sovereign power than is the creation of the universe. Redemption is… the greatest display of God’s omnipotence… [it is the ultimate] victory of good over evil… of righteousness over unrighteousness.”

4. The cup of HOPE:

The Jews understood this to be the cup of Elijah, for whom an empty seat is kept at the seder table. The filling of that seat would signal the coming of the Messiah.

Tim Hegg says that, for the Jews, “redemption guarantees the final destination, but the journey is still necessary.”

That’s how we understand it too. We are in the journey now. The Messiah has come and our final destination is guaranteed. And by that I don’t mean where we go when we die. In Jesus the whole world is reconciled to God. All of creation, not just us. So the Messiah has come and we continue on this journey, doing our part in this partnership of redemption, until he comes again.

And what is our part?

Jesus said, “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

We must, like Jesus, get on our knees and serve humbly. It isn’t easy. (Story of the person who avoids Maundy Thursday b/c she hates feet)

In case we weren’t listening as we mulled over what doing that would really be like, Jesus repeats the command, the mandate (the source of the word ‘Maundy’):

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Now we get to put our lives where our beliefs are and make manifest our commitment to be followers of Christ.

Intro to the foot washing.

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