|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Very often the New Testament portrays Jesus as surrounded by crowds - crowds that are needy, crowds that are hostile, crowds that are hungry and demanding- always crowds. But the story of Maundy Thursday is not about the crowds, about the indifferent and fickle multitudes who tomorrow will be baying for his blood. Today’s story is about friends, close and intimate friends sharing a special supper together. We read the story of course with the benefit of hindsight and the reflection of the church. We know that it this is Jesus’s last supper and that betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion all lie ahead. We feel the agony of painful parting in his words and actions. The church has theologised this whole event to the point where it is very difficult to be in touch with what really happened. Yet I wonder if we can hear some of these words as if for the first time, and lift from them, if only for a few minutes, the shadow of what happens next..
What shape is your table - your dining table, or another table you love?
A few years ago two of the Little Brothers of Francis ran a parish weekend for us in Toowoomba. Afterwards, as we offered some hospitality, Brother Geoffrey commented positively on our dining table at home. ‘A square dining table’, he said, ‘that’s unusual, but I like it very much.’ Perhaps a square table is unusual: I hadn’t thought about it before. It was certainly very appropriate for the Brothers’ visit. For, as you may know, St. Francis recommended that each Franciscan Hermitage should have no more than three, or four, Little Brothers. In the chapel of the Little Brothers in Tabulam therefore, there are just four prayer stools or chairs: one in each corner, each facing the Gospel in the centre, balanced symmetrically. Is such mutually enriching balance reflected elsewhere in our church and our world, I wonder? Well, it was for Penny and I and the Little Brothers on that night of their visit. For as we finished our meal together, Brother Wayne suggested we say compline together around the square table. Each of us facing towards a symbol of Christ in the centre, we were then in perfect symmetrical balance, focussed in Christ in mutual enrichment.
Is that an image we usually have of what it is to live in community with Christ, I wonder? If we hear tonight’s Gospel rightly, it is hard to have any other picture. Jesus not only shares food and prayer at table. He waits on his disciples at table, washing their feet. In doing so, he shares with them, in deed and word, the meaning of God’s new commandment he has for them. And then, having symbolically summed up the way of life he taught and embodied, he lives it out to the full. Jesus loves and serves to the very end: even through betrayal, trial, torture, execution and death. For love, only love, is his way...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,