Friday, April 3, 2015

Love Is All That is Left

In my first year as a pastor I made a mistake of not telling the congregation that during the Maundy Thursday service we were going to have foot washing.
I just assumed that every congregation has foot washing.
But it was the first time for that congregation, and not many people came forward.
After the service a couple people came up to me and said, “Pastor if I had known that there was going to be foot washing I would have been prepared. I would have washed my feet.”
I couldn’t help but think that they had missed the point.
The disciples didn’t have time to wash their feet before Jesus washed them.
In fact to wash someone’s feet that had been walking on dusty roads all day with only sandals on was about as dirty as it could be.
The point was that their feet were dirty and Jesus offered them a service usually done by a servant.

But the real issue is not the dirt on their feet, or on ours.
The real issue with the disciples is that all of them are dirty on the inside too.
Jesus already is aware of what will happen.
He already knows what is in the heart of Judas Iscariot;
 He knows that he cares more about money than the kingdom, and that he is disappointed in Jesus.
He already knows that for all of Peter’s bluster he will not go all the way to the cross with him.
He knows that all of those around him for various reasons will flee and run from him.
Even if their feet were clean the rest was not.
And here is the real problem for us too.
We think that we can hide the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, that are not flattering for others to see.
We cover them up in all sorts of things.
Sometimes we cover up our own insecurity by acting better than others.
Sometimes we cover it up with owning lots of really nice things.
Sometimes we cover it up with trying to look pretty.
And maybe from others we can hide what is really going on deep down in us, but we can’t hide it from Jesus.

Around the table that night Jesus sees through all of his disciples to what was really going on.
He sees through their bravado to their fears and insecurities.
But the Good News is that none of that really seemed to matter to Jesus.
He still washes everyone’s feet.
He washes them clean forgives what is about to happen so that all remains is his love for them.
Despite what is about to happen Jesus still offers them something better than they can even name for themselves.

Tonight we will have our feet washed.
Yes they are dirty and disgusting, but the act reminds us that at our worst, when we let our fears and insecurities get the best of us we are still valued and love by Jesus.
In fact, the meal that he shared with his disciples that night was to help them remember that love and value.

That when he was gone they should remember that no matter what happens his sacrifice and love is what binds them together with him.
It is what binds us here together tonight.
Tonight we also share that meal, and here at the table of our Lord there is no hiding from what really lies beneath the surface.
Beneath the face that we show the world is a person that needs to know that they have value and worth.
God at this meal assures of that because God says to us that we are so valuable that I gave my only son for you.
That we are so valuable that we are worth dying for, we are worth being served.
We are worthy of God’s love.

Some of you may know who Justin Bieber is.
He is a young man who was one of those teen pop stars.
As he grew up he went through what most people his age go through except in the limelight of international media.
When I was in Sweden a couple years ago I was at fancy hotel in Stockholm having a drink and some food.
Justin Bieber was at the same hotel.
Hundreds of young girls were outside the hotel waiting for him to come out.
When he did they screamed then they ran after his bus until it pulled away.
On that same tour he was arrested for drugs, went to the airport without a shirt, tried to bring a pet monkey with him, and generally acted outlandish.
He has been arrested, and almost deported to Canada.
Recently on Comedy Central he had this to say about his life so far.
"There was really no preparing me for this life.
I was thrown into this at twelve years old and didn't really know what I was getting myself into.
There’s been moments I’m really proud of, and a lot of moments I look back and I’m really disappointed in myself for.
 But the things that I've don’t define who I am.
I’m a kindhearted person who loves people and through it all I lost some of my best qualities.
 For that, I’m sorry.
What I can say is I’m looking forward to being someone that you guys can all look at and be proud of.
Someone that you can smile at and see some of yourself in.
Someone close to me once said, “It’s how you rise from a fall that truly defines you as a man.”
 I’m excited for that challenge, and I want to say thank you so much for taking this journey with me, and I’m excited for you to see what’s next.
Thank you God for your grace and never giving up on me.”

God of course already knew all these things about Justin Bieber, God has washed away all the bad and left only grace and love.
It takes a lot of guts to admit that we don’t have it all together.
It takes guts to confess that we are not clean that are feet are dirty and we need forgiveness.
Any of us could say those same words that Justin Bieber said.
Any of us could say that, “There was no preparing for this life”.
Any of us could say that we have made mistakes, that we have regrets, that we need forgiveness, and grace.
We would like to show the world that we have it all together and can handle everything.
But I can assure that admitting it is also freeing, because you realize that all that is left is God’s love and that is enough.
That is what gives us the ability to go on.
It is what gave Peter the ability to become the leader of the Jesus movement.
It is what gave the rest of the disciples the ability to eventually die for their faith in Jesus Christ as the risen savior.
Forgiveness is freeing.
Tonight Jesus tells us that we have a place at the table.
That he washes us clean and that we are forgiven.
Jesus washes everything away so that all that is left his is love for us.

Tonight we gather to remember that love.
We gather to gain freedom from knowing what it is like to be washed clean.
We gather to remember who we are, but most of all to remember that Jesus came so we might know who God is.
That God is a abounding in steadfast love.
Knowing that makes it worth having our dirt washed from us by Jesus.

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