This is the day we remember
Jesus gathering for a last meal
with his beloved community.
So it is occasion for us to be mindful of the gift—
the blessing this beloved community is to us—
to take the opportunity to say thank you
for who you are to each other and to others
and who we thus are together.
To look out at you
is to see all kinds of shared memories—
griefs and hopes and prayers—
worship and service and fellowship,
and bread broken together
in all kinds of places and different circumstances
through the years.
In a week through which to reflect on the holy,
there’s a holiness to who and how we are
that remains blessing and hope to me.
As is custom in our faith,
grace is always held alongside truth.
Jesus came in truth and grace (John 1:14).
And this is also the day,
they all fell away:
the beloved ones—
the ones you might think wouldn’t—
the ones he called—
the followers, the disciples,
the ones who listened and learned,
the ones who knew—
who knew Jesus—knew what he taught—
knew what and who he stood for.
“One will betray me,” said Jesus,
“the others all desert me” (Mark 14:18, 27).
A semantic difference, at best—
isn’t desertion a betrayal?
This is the day,
they all fell away.
And so, this day, Jesus was left alone—
left alone in the hands of his enemies.
And here’s what struck me this year:
notice not one word of blame.
Awareness of all that was happening, yes.
Blunt statement of what he saw, yes,
but no harsh denunciations to third parties.
No angry rhetoric for the crowds, the press, the authorities.
No emotional appeals against them
masking a desperate need for self.
Nothing, in fact, that might draw attention away from affirmation.
Even amidst tribulation, amidst all the rejection of Jesus,
absolutely nothing was allowed to undermine the affirmation of Jesus.
There would be no deflecting people’s attention from who Jesus was
and what and who Jesus stood for.
As if to say, “Who I am stands on its own.
It is not justified by who others are and are not.
In like manner, what I do stands on its own.
It it not vindicated by what others do or don’t do.
You don’t need to consider anyone else to decide about me.
And what you decide about me is decisive for you.
Accept that or not.
It has nothing to do with religion,” he told the high priests.
“It has nothing to do with politics,” he told the Roman officials.
“It has everything to do with how you decide to deal with one man—with me,
and then the religion and the politics you use to justify your decision.
I am that I am.
Who are you?”