Promises of Life on the Eve of Death

Holy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, who was, and who is to come.  Amen.


“This month shall mark for you the beginning of months,” the Lord says to Moses.

            It shall be the first month of the year for you.”

Beginning. First.

With these words the Lord initiates a new thing and indicates a promise of deliverance.

The beginning that the Lord announces –

            the Passover and deliverance of God’s chosen people from slavery into freedom –

            the beginning, oddly enough, hasn’t quite yet begun, actually.

Pharaoh still keeps the Israelites in bondage.

            But time has begun, the Lord says.

The promise has been spoken.

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An Unsettling Liturgy for an Unsettling Faith (Holy Thursday, Year B)

Holy Thursday, Year B
April 9, 2009

Exodus 12:1-14; John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Unsettling.  Tonight’s liturgy is unsettling.
For we who regularly attend, who are settled in our ways of worship,
this liturgy is unsettling in that it has a somewhat different form 
than that to which we are accustomed:
the individual declaration of forgiveness at the beginning;
the footwashing that will take place in a few moments;
the stripping of the altar that will turn this space of sacred meal and ritual 
into a barren hull while Psalm 88 is solemnly intoned;
the silent departure without postlude music, recessional hymn, 
or even the usual words of dismissal: Go in peace.  Serve the Lord.
No, on this night we refrain from joyously shouting, Thanks be to God!
and turn, instead, to the solemnity of the cross,
its cruelty, suffering, and death.
We will end in silence – unsettling silence.

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