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The Paschal Triduum: Good Friday

The Paschal Triduum: Good Friday

REV. CHRISTIAN BARON -March 25, 2016- GOOD FRIDAY, Year C: John 18:1-19:42

“Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…

 

I started my day early today in Fennville.  After my friend turned the car off, it was cold and quiet. There was no sound except for the bitter wind. My friend and I arrived in Fennville extra early to get the good fishing spot. We set six lines and began to wait. It was pitch black at 5:30, so we put jingle bells on the ends of the rods. There was no light in the east, no birds peeping. No cars driving by. No boat motors. It was calm and beautiful and yet there was an eerie and haunting feeling.

 

I grabbed the axe and began to split kindling for a fire. By now, my fingers were chilled to the bone. I should have taken gloves I thought. My fingers ached and stung as I split the wood. It was difficult to use the axe properly with my hands as cold as they were. Kris and I traded off, and I put my hands in my pockets as he split wood. I blew into my fists in hopes that they would warm up. Finally we had finished splitting the wood. The newspaper was balled and we lit the fire. We huddled around it waiting for it to really take. When the wind blew, it stoked the fire, but made the air unbearably cold.

 

At some point the fire offered us the warmth we had been seeking. We warmed our hands and listened for those bells to ring. Up to this point we were pretty quiet. Hoping for the morning and the light. Waiting for the sun to warm the air. Hoping the wind would stop. I pulled out my phone, creating a false light that temporarily lit my face and hands. I began to read the Good Friday gospel… The one I just read to you a minute ago. We took turns reading it. Neither of us responded or commented on it. We just let it sit there. It seemed extra heavy in that coldness. Cold in the darkness.

 

“Where were those bells,” I thought. “I can fish in any weather if I’m catching fish,” I told my friend. “Where are those bells?” I said. Waiting… Hoping…

 

Today is Good Friday. Good? Maybe… Cold? Dark? Yes… Good Friday is the coldest and the darkest day of the year. It’s the day we hear the story of Jesus best friends letting him down. Betraying him… denying him… The story has so many outs for the characters… so many options to make things right… It leaves the first time reader hope. Hope that the villains won’t won’t be villains. Hope that Jesus’ healing act will repair not only the ear of Malchus, but the entire awful situation. Hope that Peter will be the rock we’d like for him to be. Hope that Judas can take things back and make things right… But instead… all is black… all is dark… all is cold.

 

God it’s dark… where is that sunlight?  Where are those bells?

 

Why won’t Jesus admit to being the King? Is he refusing to be our King? Is he in fact crumbling?  Afraid of what will happen if he admits it and accepts the crown?

 

Maybe he’s no better than Peter. “Should have never rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, Jesus. Should have stayed safe. Kept things moving… Healing the sick. Lifting up the lowly.  Would we all have been better off if you wouldn’t have put yourself in this pickle, Jesus. What kind of king are you, Jesus? We don’t understand.”

 

Now you’re gone… You’ve left us here to defend ourselves with your seemingly broken and uncompromising way of being. Now what? Now what should we do? Is this really the end of the story Jesus?

 

God it’s cold.  It is so dark… Where is that sunshine? Where are those bells?

 

Fellow Christians… Good people of Grace. Our king has been laid in the tomb. Our God has died. It seems that all hope is lost.

Welcome to the Paschal Triduum: Maundy Thursday

Welcome to the Paschal Triduum: Maundy Thursday

REV. JODI BARON -March 24, 2016- MAUNDY THURSDAY, Year C: John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Welcome to the Paschal Triduum. If this is your first time here, welcome, if this is your many-ith time, welcome. This liturgy (tonight, tomorrow and Saturday) celebrate the heart of the Christian faith, message of salvation, and healing power of redemption.

 

The Triduum (or three days) commemorates the Institution of the Eucharist, the Passion, Crucifixion, his descent to the dead, and glorious resurrection at the Great Vigil of Easter.

 

This is the Paschal Mystery, and it takes three days of listening, praying, eating, washing, and waiting to even begin to enter into what it means for us.

 

During this three days, we pass over with Christ from death to life, celebrating each event in the drama of salvation and entering into the mystery of dying and rising again with the Lord of life.

 

But it hasn’t always looked like this.

 

Long, long, ago…these services were set up to be a pilgrimage for the faithful to walk those last days with Jesus on The Way of the Cross into the Resurrection. The pilgrims would travel together from place to place. First at the place of the Last Supper, then the Garden, all the way to Calvary.

It was, and continues to be, one of my favorite and most challenging times to be a part of this tradition. It’s haunting yet beautiful. It is profound and yet fairly simple and straightforward.

 

It is sacramental.

Mystical.

Transformative.

Each year, as I prepare to enter into this liturgy, I’m mindful of the practices I took up during Lent. I try to set aside time to reflect on what each practice revealed to me about my commitment to this calling; as a baptized Christian and ordained minister, a disciple.

 

So I wanted to explore a little bit about this notion of Discipleship tonight.

 

I have lots of things that initially come to mind when I hear the word Disciple, and it’s meant different things to me over different parts of my journey.

 

Follower of Jesus.

Fisher of Men.

The tradition I grew up in, Disciple of Christ…

 

But I read a book a while ago about the Practice of Ministry. It’s all about “discipleship.” The author, Kathleen Cahalan defines “Discipleship” like this:

 

to be a disciple means learning a way of life that embodies particular

dispositions, attitudes, and practices that put the disciple in a

relationship to, and participant in, God’s mission to serve and transform

the world.

 

She describes seven attributes of the disciple as

follower,

worshiper,

witness,

neighbor,

forgiver,

prophet and

 

It stuck with me because it’s not pithy, or cliche.

 

It’s complicated and multidimensional.

 

Most profoundly, it’s communal. There’s no way ONE person could function in all those ways. It takes many.

 

We don’t commit to a flat, one dimensional, or even solitary way of living when we say we want to follow Jesus.

 

We commit to a complex, deep, transformative way of being in the world with our brothers and sisters, that is

different,

set apart, and

strangely foreign to those not within the faith.

Remember, our king rode into Jerusalem, not on a majestic war-horse to flaunt his power and might, but instead on the back of a

weak,

slow,

donkey. A symbol of shared power, humility and equality.

 

He washed the feet of his followers.

Their dirty,

nasty,

about-to-abandon-him-in-his-darkest-hour feet.

 

He prayed in agony over what he was about to submit to in the garden, on the heels of the institution of what we now celebrate as Eucharist.

 

He allowed his friend to kiss him with betrayal.

 

He submitted to be beaten, mocked, and publically executed on the town garbage dump to further humiliate him and publically cast shame upon him.

 

He modeled for us this different kind of kingdom and kingship. He gave this to us and showed us what can happen when we do the same.

When we follow this king into a life of servanthood and love, even to the point of death.

 

My friends, tonight we do not come here wash the feet of our neighbor to make each other uncomfortable, although uncomfortable may be how we feel.

 

We do it to enter into the mystery of God’s love for us in the way he served his disciples.

 

Just as we celebrate the Eucharist because Jesus commanded us to it every time we gather, we wash each other’s feet because Christ tells us that if we don’t let him wash our feet we can have no part of him.

 

We do this because it is a practice that points us to the revelation of Christ the Anointed One, the Messiah.

 

Practice means disciplining ourselves to a life of service.

 

It means a commitment to molding and patterning our lives in the ways of Jesus, over and over again until it becomes so much a part of who we are that it’s in our bones.

 

Jesus, speaking to those at table with him, says, “Do you know what I have done to you?”
No, Jesus. I do not know what it is that you have done to me. But I’m trying. And I promise to keep trying.