The Maundy Thursday worship service and the gospel reading from John 13:1-17, 31b-35 are filled with actions and rituals that help us experience what Jesus and his disciples went through the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. In this sermon, Pastor Paige reflects on the objects in our homes that preserve significant events, and helps people understand how our experience of Maundy Thursday is not only meant to preserve, but also to pass on, the good news of Jesus’ great love for all people.
On this Palm Sunday / Sunday of the Passion, we began worship with the joy of Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds welcomed him as King. But we also hear the Passion story of his betrayal, sham trial, and crucifixion less than a week later. How could things change so quickly? Because Jesus didn’t come to revel in the praise of the crowds. He came to save the crowds, to save humanity, from ourselves. He is the King we need, even though he may not be the kind of King we want. More than that, he comes to make us into the kind of people the world needs, even if it’s not always the kind of people the world wants.
We can understand how “bad” things can turn our hearts away from God and other people. But one of the great tragedies of sin is that it can cause even good things to curve our souls inward. In our readings from Philippians 3:4b-14 and John 12:1-8, we will discover an even greater promise, though: the goodness and beauty of God’s grace can unwind our souls. No matter how good our earthly gains are, Jesus is infinitely better. Listen and discover what his goodness can do to you!
Jesus tells the beloved parable, “there was a man who had two sons,” to a group of grumbling Pharisees to open their eyes and hearts to the astounding mercy of God. In the parable from Luke 15:1-3 & 11b-32, the younger son leaves home, choosing freedom over family. When his money runs out and he’s curved in on himself from hunger and regret, he turns back toward home. The unexpected welcome from his father reminds Jesus’ listeners and us that God’s love is always bigger than our mistakes.
What would make a church into a community that people would run to? In a world where so many have abandoned the idea of church, why would anyone choose one? Words from Isaiah 55:1-9 can show us what the heart of God truly is, and how the church can become an open door to the goodness and grace of Jesus.