The Holy Thursday Revolution
I want to talk tonight about the Holy Thursday Revolution that Alstonville Anglicans experienced moments ago.
This is what John 13 is about, revolution.
It is a very difficult revolution to achieve because what is undone is our very selves, our view of the world. The world and its events do not change. It is who we that fundamentally changes, it is who we are that changes, that shifts.
A phrase that describes this is called a paradigm shift. Here is a simple explanation. Each of us whether we are aware of it or not relates to the world through a set of eyeglasses. Some are not even aware that these eye glasses are even on their face. But how we experience the world, how we relate to people is through this set of eye- glasses.
What we realise tonight is that we have the glasses in the first place and allow Jesus to give us new ones.
The paradigm shift
The paradigm shift is really about allowing Jesus to change us from an old order to a new order. The old order is the world of rulers and masters where people are isolated, separated, lonely. The new world order is the language of love and all that that costs: trust, faith, care, dying to self.
The Holy Thursday Revolution
More and more I am learning to see that Jesus and his message are basically apocalyptic; that we are given a choice between two worlds. Do you want to follow the way of the world or the way of the cross? Here again on Maundy Thursday we are faced with a similar choice; do you want to be part of the old order, the world of rulers and servants, a world of isolation where we are separate from each other. Or are you prepared to allow Jesus to give you a new way of living? Are you willing to be part of a new world order, a new heaven and a new earth where we are intimately related, where we are a part of each other, where I am who I am because you are who you are, where who I am and who I am becoming are intimately related to who you are and who you are becoming, where we understand that I am in you and you are in me and that we are in Christ.
The important thing is that the paradigm shift is done to us. It is not something that we achieve. It is something that God does to us. In the foot washing ceremony Jesus does the washing it is not something we do to ourselves.
As I reflect on tonight’s experience of foot washing and stripping of the altar I realise how much Jesus is kneading this new paradigm into me. I know how uncomfortable it makes me, terrified even, terrified especially at the level of trust and faith I am being asked to live at.
The foot washing ceremony
The foot washing ceremony is where Jesus undoes the old world order and instates the new. Our simple ritual of re-enacting of this event undoes me.
While it is easy for me to reflect at an intellectual level about Jesus and his new world order, the actual experience of this is frightening.
The experience of foot-washing which is meant to reflect Jesus action is confronting. In the actual moment of washing someone else’s feet, I am undone by the sheer intimacy, vulnerability and trust that the moment provokes. Drying between the toes of another feels almost invasive as if I am being allowed in to the most sacred parts of another human’s life. This is not something I think I have ever done with my husband. And in the experience of foot washing as I journey through discomfort, through confrontation to intimacy, vulnerability, physical touch and care, I often feel close to tears when I think about how much I actually love the people whose feet I am washing. I am close to tears because I am so keenly aware that this is a love that God pours in me because it is beyond my own human capacity and resources. I am struck by the holiness of the moment as I begin to relate to people in a different way, beyond the transaction of “can you do this for me” or “can I do this for you”. I sense through the intimacy and vulnerability and sensuality of the touch a different way of relating that is beyond treating them or having them treat me as objects. It is subject to subject relating.
The symbols of tonight speak profoundly of the community we are called to be:
· A community that is truly the body of Christ.
· A community that relates to each as subject to subject.
· A community that understands and experiences unity in such a way that we just know deeply that our lives are caught up with each other, that the pain and joy of one is shared by all.
· A community prepared to embrace intimacy, trust, faith, vulnerability, exposure as the marks of a truly mature spirituality.
· A community that can say clearly this experience: I am in you, you are in me and together we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Thank you for trusting me to share this journey with you.