Tonight, we will gather all over the world. By we, I mean Christians. We will gather around table and basin as the story of our faith rises toward the hill of Zion and the cross. We begin with the story of the last supper, when we believe Jesus blessed bread and wine with new meaning after setting right the human being who would follow him. How did he do that?
He washed his disciples’ feet. This simple act of humble service was demeaning, given to the lowest of the household. It was an act of service to touch their feet with warm water and the towel at his waist, stripped of his mantle, kneeling before them, men and women who had followed him from their lives into his vocation.
He is about to face the powers and principalities of oppression and control, and he does not draw up his power within, he does not go off alone to do some push ups and drive up his testosterone. He strips and kneels before his students. He reverses their role and then points out that this is the way, his Way, to lead.
Later he will be stripped again and humiliated, crucified before the powers of the world. He will not take the path we expect, or like Peter we want. He is going to take the way of the roses, of his own blood spilled, not his soldiers and servants. He is going to give his life instead of taking other lives. He is going to take the only rise to power that can draw all to himself. He is going to obliterate the very idea of victim sacrifice and a warring god.
He is stripping the war gods of their claims to YHWH’s throne and taking the only path to peace there is. Oh, that I could claim to have been there! To have seen the prince of peace take off his mantle and take up the towel, to let him cleanse me. Alas, I was born almost two millennia too late. So all I can do is take off my robe and take up the towel, to kneel, to obey, and trust that this way of the cross is the Way.
And so our holy week journey begins.
Join us tonight at 6:30 pm at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City. Join us wherever you are in the world. In him, we are together.