Maundy Thursday Sermon 2015

Sermon Title: Maundy Thursday Sermon 2015

Date: 2nd April 2015

Preacher: Reverend Jonathan Chambers

Church Calendar Date: Maundy Thursday

Tonight we enter these Three Great Days. How have you come?

You may say, I come every year, to recall what Jesus did for me. Duty, My tradition, responsibility as a Christian? All true.

But what I want to ask is “What do you expect to happen to you”?

As you enter this time, are you coming expectantly?

Are you expecting that God will speak to you? And if not Why not?

This is a time to deeply reflect on Jesus’ Story …..and your own story.

The God who loves you deeply honours your journey and wants to bring wholeness of life. So be aware of each thought that comes into your head, every bodily sensation which surprises you. This is how God breaks though our natural resistance and Jesus’ invitation is to ponder what these revelations might mean

The Special thing about this night is that it marks the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples.

Of note is Jesus who washes his disciple’s feet. This was a significant crossing of the boundaries. It was an affront to Peter- those in authority didn’t do dirty jobs like washing feet for their servants. It was an act of vulnerability for Jesus, who was happy enough in his own skin to be able to show his love for them in this way.

Good Boundaries keep us safe, but if defended too vigorously they can also keep us isolated, lonely and troubled.

Last Saturday morning Susanne and I slept in a bit. Susanne was still in bed dozing and while I was getting dressed I heard someone in our backyard, through the window of our walk-in robe. To my surprise as I was standing there in my underwear, a young man in his twenties, appeared at the window and addressed me through the 6 inch opening of the opaque glass. I was startled. He said in a somewhat garbled monotone that he was sorry, but needed somewhere to sleep and that he had spent the night beside the church and that this morning he had been just sitting on the chair beside our back door. He went on to say that he had washed his hands under the tap, because he had a medical condition and then he stood back from the window so I could see his whole person, and with his hands open said he was sorry and assured me that he hadn’t taken anything. By the time I got my pants on and got outside to talk to him he had gone.
This was a Boundary crossing which gave me quite a shock. It was an intrusion into the private space of our back yard and it also felt into the intimate space of our bedroom. I had good reason to be concerned and affronted. But was he dangerous?? – I don’t think so he was apologetic and confused, assuring me that he hadn’t taken anything. He put his hands out to show he was empty handed.

What should I do? I could call the Police??? But what for? He hadn’t done any harm. I could barricade the gates and put barbed wire around the perimeter or the vicarage back yard to drive him away and keep other intruders out?

But why – because I feel scared? Having grown up in Vicarages I learnt at a very early age that my personal space could be easily invaded by parish members or strangers. Consequently this boundary crossing on Saturday was an affront for me.

But is my fear real or a projection out of my story of having lived in Vicarages all my life? This man was in need of somewhere to sleep he said….. He sounded confused and in need of care, rather than condemnation.

Boundaries. We need them, but how closely do we need to defend them?

This Boundary Violation in the Vicarage back yard reminded me of the response of successive Australian Government’s, to refugees who have come here seeking asylum.

They haven’t come, with guns or machetes, but as Tim Winton recently said, with nothing more than the sweat on their backs and plea to be saved from those who would attack them. Asking for no more than asylum.

As a country we have responded by putting up the razor wire around the perimeter and made the lives of detainees unbearable; to our disgrace.

But why have we done this?

Because our politicians since the Tampa crises have told us that these people are dangerous and it’s a threat to our border security. In fact we have now called our shores, ‘Sovereign Borders’. A word which claims our power, superiority and right to exclude with impunity other children of God who come in need of our help.

And we have found it convenient to believe our politicians.

We play the old tapes from our experiences of being scared in our past, over and over of how we imagine we could be in danger. We watch the TV News and read the daily papers; and we are vicariously traumatised. And so we believe that stronger boundaries will keep us safe. But in fact we are the ones who end up being imprisoned in our own fear.

I’ve talked tonight about two boundary crossings the Man in the Vicarage Yard and Refugees who seek asylum in our country. Are they dangerous? … well maybe yes and maybe no. We don’t know. So do we go for the safest option of keeping the intruder out, or do we maintain some safety and find out whether we really are at risk or not.

At the beginning I asked you if you have come to this service expectantly. That God will speak into your heart. I wonder if this talk of boundaries has brought to your mind some hurt from your past and consequent fear which has caused you to erect some sovereign borders to keep you safe. These boundaries may have been necessary and appropriate for a time. But are they still necessary? Has the legacy of that hurtful experience had its day? Are you still projecting that hurt and defensiveness onto others, when in fact you know that you are okay and a loved child of God who doesn’t need to live in fear any longer?

I’ve come to understand that this is what we mean by being “Saved”- that this is what Salvation is actually all about. That in growing to know how much God loves me- unconditionally, that I don’t need to continue to live as a victim, in constant fear, dogged by my memories of the past which have imprisoned me. I am a new creation in Christ. I am invited to take on my divinity, my Godly nature, which was given to me when I was born and has been lost through the rigours of early childhood.

Jesus invitation to wash feet and allow our feet to be washed is about crossing boundaries. Of expressing my unconditional care for another or allowing myself to be open enough to receive another’s offering to me.

Are you free enough to allow that mutual sharing? Jesus constant response to those who were frighted was “Do not be afraid.”

Tonight, if you can do this boundary crossing in this small thing, then you may be able to do it in a greater ways.

Remember: “Compassionate boundaries; for we are all children of God”.

The Lord be with you.