Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
April 17, 2003 6:30 pm
Hymn "Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all" 533
Prayer of Confession (on back of bulletin)
Scripture John 13:1-17
Washing and being washed (hymns sung as needed)
Scripture Mark 14:12-21
Hymn "When Israel was in Egypt's land" 164
Scripture Mark 14:22-25
Breaking the Bread
Drinking from His Cup
Hymn "ĎTis midnight, and on Oliveís brow" 241
Scripture Mark 14:26-28
Song (in the dark) "Alleluia"
"I will go before you"
God, I love you because you have created me. You have shaped me with hands that have played in the clay. You have breathed your spirit into me, sharing the kiss of love and life. What can I give back to you for everything you have given to me? Creator God, it seems I don't know. My responses to your gratitude are eyes that refuse to see past my own need, ears that hear only what they want, lips that spit hatred, and hands that throw clay. Here I am, God, broken. Here I am, God, your servant bound by a self-centeredness that eats at my soul. Yet, deep within, my heart wants to see Jesus lifted high. Here I am, God. Can you accept someone like me? I kneel and take my neighbor's foot. The water is warm. I bow and take the towel. Can you set me free to serve?
by Sara Haldeman-Scarr
Beloved Child of God, the answer is Yes! Yes! God does accept you! God does love you! In your brokenness God sees opportunity. In your weakness God sees strength. In your humanness God sees the divine. What can you give back to God for everything God has done for you? Complete your promise to do the best you can. Offer God thanksgiving for the gifts of every day. In your place of worship, raise your hands in praise. God welcomes those who offer love. You are set free to serve! Go, faithful servant, and serve!
by Sara Haldeman-Scarr
Imagine a family sitting down for a big Thanksgiving Dinner, the first time after some tragic event - say a divorce or a death. They try very hard to make this a special meal, but an awkwardness hangs over the whole affair. You can feel it more than you can see it.
I wonder if that wasnít how it was for the "family" of disciples gathered around Jesus on that Passover night. They were in Jerusalem, THE City of Godís Shalom, ready to partake of one of the most central meals of their Jewish faith They had made all sorts of special preparations, as directed by their Rabbi Jesus. This was to be an extraordinary event for them. And yet, an awkwardness hung over it all.
Donít you think they knew something was about to happen? They couldnít have listened to everything Jesus had been saying without picking up some clue to the troubles that lay ahead. No, the "tragic" event was not in the past for them, but it was very much a part of their awareness, nonetheless. And then there was the rather cryptic words Jesus said during the meal about being betrayed. What did Judas, one of the "family," have to do with this? Talk about a tense moment on a very special occasion.
I have a different "feel" for this meal this year since I am portraying Judas in our upcoming production of Godspell. In this very room, my character will betray Jesus with a kiss. Makes me wonder how I, as this character you call "Pastor Pete," or the character my family calls "Dad" or "husband," or the person thought of by some as "friend;" it makes me wonder how I - today - betray my Lord.
Holy moments are full of the awareness of our own failing. Think of the prophet Isaiah who, when God first called him, said, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (6:5). That, also was an awkward occasion. Even so, in the background angels sang, "Holy, holy, holy..." (6:3).
Holy moments. This portion of our meal is a holy moment, also. Weíre not meditating in the sanctuary right now. Weíre not down on our knees washing feet while we sing gospel songs. Weíre not breaking the bread and drinking from the cup of the new covenant. Weíre just eating. Lately, here at Long Green Valley our table time during this part of Love Feast has grown quite noisy. In my previous congregation, we ate in total silence. That didnít quite feel right to me, but neither does just talking about anything and everything. These are also holy moments.
I wonder about the conversation around the table before that first communion. What do you think they talked about? Do you think they used the time to remember the first Passover? Iíd like to challenge you around your table tonight to see how much you remember of the Exodus story (youíll find it around the 12th chapter of the book of Exodus). If one of our young observers is near you, include them in your remembering. What was the purpose of the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples were eating, one meal among hundreds (if not thousands) which was being eaten on that night in that city? Iím not calling for silence. The disciples talked with one another, Iím sure. For one thing, scripture says they wondered aloud with one another whether they were the betrayer. "Is it I?" More importantly, though, they were remembering together how the blood of the lamb saved Godís people in Egypt long ago. The blood of another lamb would soon be shed. A new Exodus was about to happen.
Remember together the foundational story of Passover as you eat. Later when you hear the piano start to play, and the song-leader sing his/her portion of #164, "When Israel was in Egyptís land," be prepared to join in on your part of that hymn. For now, letís begin this meal with prayer.
I mentioned earlier that one of the characters I will portray in Godspell is Judas. Heís a part of the story we would like to omit. Just like we might want to leave out the prediction of how the twelve disciples would all run away when the going got tough, and how Peter, the Rock, would deny his teacher three times before that night was over. However, these details are important to the story of our salvation. After all, how different are we from Judas who betrayed him, or Peter who denied him, or the religious leaders who arrested him, or the crowds who cried "crucify him," or the political leaders who wanted nothing to do with him, or the soldiers who beat him and nailed him to the cross?
Jesus died for you, brother. Jesus died for you, sister. We arenít gathered around these tables because we are sinless, because we have never betrayed anyone, never denied our Lord, never tried to use him for selfish purposes, never crucified him in some thoughtless action, never secretly or openly desired to have nothing to do with him, never nailed him to some cross in our daily life... No, we are here because we know that we are sinners. This is the story of our salvation.
Sisters and brothers, listen the good news. In his body broken on Calvaryís tree, in his bleeding and dying, Jesus took upon himself our sin - our betrayals, our denials, our selfishness, our thoughtless cruelty, our secret or open ignorance of God. All our transgressions are nailed to the cross with Jesus. He died for you. He died for me. He died for all humanity.
bread, he said. As you break and eat it, remember. Do not forget the Passover,
how God has redeemed you. Drink from my cup, he said. As you place it to your
lips, remember. Do not forget the Passover, how the blood of this lamb of God
has set you free from your captivity. "I died for you," he says to us
this night, "to free you from bondage to sin and death." Never forget.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life," he says. Never forget.
"If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed." Never forget.
Leader: Blessed are you, O God.
Leader: Blessed are you, O God.
Hymnal # 785
Our foundational story of the new Exodus in Jesus Christ continues. The passion begun around the table in the upper room moved from the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas betrayed his Lord with a kiss. Events quickly unfolded in the halls of the religious and civil authorities, as arrest led to confrontation and torture. His disciples fled in fear, and even Peter disowned him before daybreak. On that next day, the lamb of God was slain upon a cross.
Starting with this candle, and moving around this room (motion the direction), we will quietly blow out each candle - one at a time by those closest to each one, and stand for a moment of silence in the dark.
Remember what Jesus promised his disciples on the Mount of Olives: "After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee" (Mark 14:28). You will hear those words again on Sunday. For now, listen.
This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia.
(para traducir a espaŮol, presione la bandera de EspaŮa)
To learn more about Love Feast, click here.