Today as I write this it is Maundy Thursday and I am writing from the perspective of the Episcopal Church, not Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Historically it is a day when the church commemorates the Last Supper where Jesus himself instituted Holy Communion or the Eucharist, the breaking of the bread and the cup of wine. In our church the service ends with the lights being turned off and the altar stripped of everything. The thing that struck me this evening was when our pastor removed the colored portion of his vestments (I am sure there is a formal Latin name for them). Seeing him remove the very symbol of his position in the church, our church, rang deep with me.
Now Lent is coming to a close and highlights tomorrow, Friday, and on Sunday. But we are tired from our journey of traveling with Jesus to Jerusalem leading Him to Calvary and the cross. We have known that this journey was to the death, and not just the death of Jesus but also to our death. So tonight Jesus sits with us, dines with us, and gives us a present of great value, the Eucharist. “Do this in remembrance of me” are the words He speaks as He looks around and deep into the eyes of everyone there. He says it to you and to me, remember me, as oft as you eat the bread and drink the wine, symbols of His Body and Blood, poured out for you and me.
Last week while I was driving and listening to a Dennis Jernigan song a reality hit me. I drove the nails into His hands and I pierced His side with a sword made with my own hands. Yes, I have heard this image before calling out to me but this time I pondered it. I not only drove the nails into His hands and feet but I did it with zeal. No, zeal is not the right word; more like fervor or pleasure, taking care to make sure the most pain was inflicted with each blow. Taking great satisfaction in a job well done, smiling while I worked. Yet as I looked over Jesus just lay there and His eyes said that He loved me, said that while yes, it physically hurt, His love was of such greater importance that each blow was worth suffering if it meant loving me more. Me, and you.
I was a skilled craftsman who made spears of the finest quality, works of beauty; beauty not just in their looks but in their brutality. I instilled in each spear I made the wonderful ability to inflict the greatest hurt, hurt that came with nuances people could not realize until the spear had pierced them. If I added twists and turns while impaling the pain only grew greater. I took great pride in my spears. And I used my finest on to pierce the side of Jesus and took pleasure and pride in doing so. Yet He only looked down on me with love, His love, as only He could.
We call tomorrow Good Friday. Who thought of that I will probably never know (unless some scholar tells me the history of it, please don’t). We take the One who knows only how to love and we each nail him to the cross. We think we have silenced this love that we cannot fathom, that we reject over and over. But Love will not be silenced. Love will hang on the cross willingly, will allow the piercing of the hands and feet, the spear in the side. Love will and love does. Love that is beyond comprehension and boggles the mind. Why? Why? Why? And love looks down on us from the cross, love that is covered in blood and sweat and every foul fluid possible, love that is spat upon and just loves. And this love sees love when it looks down. When it sees you and me holding the hammer and the spear, gambling for the clothes and it sees love.
This paragraph should speak of some really profound Christian commentary about what is happening but I do not and cannot grasp what this thing call love means. I just hear the voice that only the deepest part of my heart can hear say, “Bernie, I love you.” And my life is now thrown into total chaos because it is too, not radical, not revolutionary, not too complex or deep, but it is simply too simple. Jesus loves me and is looking down from the cross knowing I put Him there and all He says is “I Love you.”.
Below is a gift for this time, a gift for you. I hope I copied and pasted the link right.