Archive | April 2019

Even Me, Lord?

John 13:1-17

I want to share with you some prepared thoughts I had which I think are important. But first I want to acknowledge, for all of us, the deep sorrow the Christian and entire world is feeling now due to the fire and desecration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. For those of you lucky enough to have visited there, you know that it is a structure that is a man-made homage to God, eternity, and the human spirit. It has become an icon of civilization and a tribute to beauty and the sacred that we thought was timeless. As we remove from the altar this evening the linens, flowers and cover the cross, as the lights go out, and the music dies away, we are reminded again that all of the beauty and love in this world comes to us from God, and without God, the world would be a wretched place. It is with the strength of God in our lives that we are able to rebuild, repair, and renew each day, and so shall it be with Notre Dame.

We shall all, no matter the individual faith beliefs, help to rebuild it and restore its beauty to our world.

But today is Maundy Thursday, the least understood, probably least attended, and surely the most intimate of the Christian holy days.

Most people, even non-Christians, have heard of Good Friday and Easter – the last two days of what is called the Paschal Triduum. But most people don’t know much about this important Thursday observance. “Maundy Thursday” comes from “mandatum novum” meaning “new commandment” referring to the 13th chapter in the Gospel of John, which describes Jesus hosting a meal for his disciples (now known as “The Last Supper”) after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It describes how, in the middle of that meal, Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, and then started washing the feet of his disciples. He ended this loving and servile act by giving the “new mandate” to

“love one another.” (John 13:34)

Maundy Thursday is awkward and often ignored because, frankly, who wants to be reminded that Jesus humbled himself to do the task that servants and slaves did? We want to celebrate him as the risen king and lord of creation. Who wants to be reminded that Jesus lived out the truth that the ‘first must be last’ (Mark 9:35), and even now – as then – he is willing to touch us where we’re most vulnerable and where the dirt in our lives can be seen?

Who wants to be reminded of the tawdriness in our lives at all?

Who does not shrink from being intimately seen and known in our most wounded self by another?

Who wants to break bread and commune with people who truly know us at our deepest and most broken level?

Jesus’ first disciples balked when he washed their feet – “What are you doing? That’s for slaves to do! We can’t let you do this!” Jesus answered,

“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8)

To paraphrase,

“Unless you let me do this, unless you let me humble myself, unless you let me do something that you think is shameful; unless you let me embrace you in your shame, you cannot truly share my life, my mission, and my love”.

And so now, if we don’t let Jesus into our lives where we’re truly most vulnerable, ashamed, and broken, we don’t let Jesus into our lives at all.

The love of God, as we learned from Jesus, is unconditional, . . .

just as we are.

To share in his life, to be fully followers of Jesus, we are called to love ourselves and others in that way too. . .


Are we willing to accept that Jesus loves us totally, regardless of our failings, no matter what dirt we may be wearing? Can we remember that he suffers when we suffer? Can we fully accept that our pettiness, anger and violence hurt him deeply, as it hurts all humanity? Can we fully comprehend, that no matter what, his love has redeemed us and through his suffering and example, we are assured that with him we have eternal life?

Would you pray with me a prayer by Presbyterian Minister Rev Erin Counihan:

Almighty One,

Before I get lost,
In this night of false belief,
This night of cheap faith,
This night when my real is exposed, Along with my bare feet.
Before I give in.
Before I give up.
Before I walk away.
In silent complicity.

It’s obnoxious, I know,
but would you, please,
feed me.
Fill me.
Hope in me.
Give me strength.
Share your grace.
Share your all.
With me.
(Even tonight.)


If you’ll help me
I promise to try to trust you enough to believe,
to really believe in your wild and radical love
that it might even be for me
in a very real way,
and to let you hold this sin of mine.
The one I like to carry because I think I deserve its weight,
its punishing load should be forever shaking my arms.

So if you’ll help me
I promise to try to trust and believe you can really be that wonderful
for me too.
[1]       Rev Erin Counihan, Oak Hill Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO

Delivered at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington and Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 18 April 2019

Waiting Is A ‘Downer’!

This morning I woke up as ‘Downer deni’, disgusted because I felt like I had to wait until I could get anything done! Waiting colored my entire mood a dark grey! As I looked out the window, Columbus was covered in thick grey clouds – not a sun ray was to be found. My wrist, badly sprained in a stupid fall, was painful, partially because I knowingly and willingly didn’t care for it properly yesterday. Instead of icing and keeping it elevated as I am supposed to do, I tried to act like I hadn’t injured it. I am disgusted that I fell in the first place, and now am ‘waiting’ until it gets better so I can continue with my life at full speed.

I find I am also ‘waiting’ for Holy Week to be over. Although one of my favorite times in the liturgical year, Holy Week is an intense and emotional time for clergy. If we have been “doing church” for any period of time, we have to figure out a way to make the events of this week seem special and new to everyone’s soul – including our own. I have preached on Maundy Thursday the last five years – how do I make everyone feel in their hearts the significance of the events that are about to take place? We may not admit it openly, but most of us ‘wait’ for ‘Jammie Monday’ – the day after Easter Day when we can stay in our pajamas and drink coffee and not get off the couch. . . no meetings, no phone call, no commitments!

Most of all, I am ‘waiting’ for the swelling in my hand and wrist to go down so that I can take the restrictive brace off and return to my normal activities. I am angry with myself because I can’t type – I have to spend more time correcting the mistakes than it takes to type them. This Type-A person is not very pleasant to be around!

I look at my calendar for a time when I am not scheduled – aha, I find one! But, like every other day, something pops up which I need to take care of and can’t. So, I will just have to ‘wait’.

Waiting is a ‘downer’, and I am in a really grumpy mood!

But, then I open the balcony door and hear the birds chirping and see the Canada geese swimming on the Scioto River in families. I recall the jazz concert I attended yesterday that took my mind off my injured hand, and I remember how music makes everything better! I think of how peaceful it is when I walk the Scioto Mile early in the morning, and meditate on our beautiful world, and how much God must love us to have created this magnificent orb for us to share.

Then it hits me: I am wasting good time ‘waiting’ for things to happen. The world is never going to be smooth, without little bumps here and there. I cannot fix everything even when the ‘waiting’ is over. All I, and all of us, can do is be the best person we can be in each moment with each choice we make.

We hear in Matthew 6:25-27,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns— and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

‘Waiting’ until “things get better” does not ensure ANYTHING will be better.

It is time for me to stop ‘waiting’ – roll up my sleeves, take care of my hand, and let my ‘waiting’ turn into action! We do not need to waste our time ‘waiting’ for things to change or improve. Life is meant to be lived in the moment, right now, warts and all! Let’s start living now and we will find those things that we would have missed if we had spent that time ‘waiting’.

‘Waiting’ for something to happen only means we miss out on the joy and miracle of what IS happening! There are gardens to be planted, sunrises and sunsets to be savored, songs to be sung, good times to be shared – to miss all that is the REAL ‘downer’ – let’s don’t waste another minute to ‘love and serve the Lord’!

Rev deniray mueller, The Crosswords, 15 April 2019