Sermons That Work

Have You a Will…, Maundy Thursday – 1997

March 27, 1997

Have you a will? Have you taken time to think about who is important in your life, and how you would like to thank them, or be remembered? Have you decided what your treasures are, and how those treasures will be divided – or have you tried to figure out how “to take it with you?”

Some weeks back, on Ash Wednesday, we were reminded in the gospel that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Treasure the spotlight, and that is where your heart, your energy, your mind will be. Treasure the finer things in life, and that is where your life will be. But tonight is not necessarily about what we treasure – it is about what God treasures.

The readings for tonight tell the stories of “the night before.” The night before the flight from Egypt, and the night before the crucifixion. These are no ordinary times. They are marked by a careful preparation of the people for the events to come, a preparation orchestrated by God working through Moses for the people of Israel, and Jesus in the gospel. God would be acting to offer the people freedom; not only from another nation of the world, but from sin and death.

God uses the night before the exodus and crucifixion and resurrection. He takes over, bringing the people together, ordering what will happen, even offering explanation for why we do what we do. Underlying his concern for what will happen, underlying the details is the value given to the people he has created. We are his treasures, and he wants us to be safe, and be with him where we belong.

He treasures the people of Israel; so much so that he makes it possible for them to escape from their slavery in Egypt, to begin a new life that will eventually lead them into a full relationship with Him. He treasures them; making sure they are fed for the journey ahead, and protected from the disaster he will bring upon the Egyptians that will give them the window that allows them to escape.

He treasures the world he has made so much that he would send us his own son, that we might know the extent of his love for us. He treasures us so much that we are invited to call him “Father,” and call Jesus our brother. Treasures us enough that we are invited to consider ourselves family.

Jesus treasures us as the Father. On the night before he dies, he gathers his disciples for a final meal together. He identifies the bread and wine as his body and blood and commands the disciples to do this in remembrance of him. Not simply to remember him, but in remembering him, be able to call upon him, his life, to become one with ours, that we might be able to feed off his love and never be left hungry or alone. He treasures us too much for that!

He commands those who would follow him to do to one another as he has done to us. Bend down at the feet of one another, serve them, treasure them as Jesus has treasured us. As he has seen something is us to treasure, look into the eyes of another person, any person, and see what Christ sees – a brother or sister to be treasured and loved with our own life.

What does God see in us that he treasures so much? If I look in the mirror, can I see it for myself? Or is it something that will be brought to the surface through coaxing and encouragement? Do I have to trust that whatever God sees really is there, trust that in partnership with him, I will one day be able to see it? Will the same be true of the people I meet in my life? Will I be able to see in them what God treasures? Will I have to trust sometimes that it is there, without actually seeing it? Will I have to help coax it out, encourage its surfacing through acts of love, the same acts of love I have known from the hand of Christ?

This is still God’s night. His night to prepare us for a life where death is identified not with the end, but as a beginning. He prepares us by commanding us to love one another as he loves us, see in each other what he sees. Seeing through his eyes allows us to let go of our prejudices, our fears and expect life where we did not know it before. Seeing through his eyes allows us to die and live again, live again in love, in resurrection. Seeing through his eyes prepares us for tomorrow, for Saturday, for Easter.

It begins in allowing Jesus to look in our eyes and say that he loves us, loves us enough to wash our feet. It begins in allowing Jesus to feed us with his own body and blood. It begins in allowing Jesus to die for us personally. It begins in allowing Jesus to treasure us. Allow Jesus into your hearts this night, let him love us, let him wash us, let him feed us, let him die for us. Say “Amen” by allowing his eyes to become our eyes, his hands to become our hands, his life to become our lives. Say “Amen” and know the treasure of his love.

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Christopher Sikkema


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