Fourth Sunday of Easter/Cuarto Domingo de Pascua
Third Sunday of Easter/Tercer Domingo de Pascua
Second Sunday of Easter/Segundo Domingo de Pascua
The cross – during Jesus’ life and for many years before and after, it was a symbol of fear, anxiety, domination and control. It was capital punishment in a most brutal, painful form. The purpose of crucifixion was to dissuade others from doing the same thing that the perpetrator had done. It was also humiliation – a person who was crucified was not even dignified with a loincloth but instead was left to hang naked for hours or even days.
As Lutheran Christians, we believe in looking at the world through a theology of the cross – which means to see God and the world as it really is – not as we want God and the world to be.
Good Friday is a day to see the world as it really is – full of cruelty, hatred, injustice, inequity and sin.
Good Friday is also a day to see God as God really is – boundless in love and forgiveness for us and the world. Luther called God’s gift to us – Christ on the cross – “God’s backside” – the point at which God appeared to be the very contradiction of all that one might reasonably have anticipated God to be.
Holding on to the cross and seeing the world through the cross means seeing through God’s eyes. Staying near the cross means that we don’t worry about our own salvation every moment but instead see the world as God desires it to be – full of love, justice, equality and freedom.
Stay near the cross – not out of fear for your own life after death – Stay near the cross so that you are working with God in this world today.
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day that we traditionally gather to share a meal of bread and wine that has come to be called communion – a word derived from Latin for fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing.
How can we share communion when we can’t come together? That is the conundrum of many pastors and of me during this COVID-19 pandemic. The meal and the washing ceremony have a deep place in my heart and it’s hard to give that up.
So instead of focusing on what we can’t do, let’s shift to focus on what we can do.
We can be grateful that God hasn’t gone anywhere. God is still here with us every moment of this crisis.
We can read and reflect on the words of these ancient stories – Passover and the Last Supper and listen for God’s guidance. So let’s do that together for a few minutes.
Passover happened as the last message to Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The last of ten plagues was the death of the firstborn in every Egyptian household, and the blood on the door frame was a signal to skip the homes of the Israelites.
The Israelites were told to eat their meal hurriedly, with their shoes and coat on and prepared to leave. This wasn’t a relaxing meal with friends, it was a last meal before chaos and change.
Jesus’ story for today is not about the meal and those words: “This is my body given for you” or “This is a new covenant in my blood”. Instead it is Jesus showing what a new Passover tradition should be:
“Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things; you are blessed if you do them.”
It is hard for us to be willing to wash the feet of someone else for many reasons: privacy, intimacy, fear, and anxiety, to name a few.
We have to overcome our own expectations in order to be humble. That was Jesus’ lesson to his disciples on that Passover evening. God desires us to love and respect each other as equals because we are equally God’s children.
On this socially distanced Maundy Thursday, we are living Jesus’ teaching of humility and care. We are protecting each other from COVID-19 instead of selfishly insisting that we gather to continue a tradition. We are washing our hands and disinfecting doorknobs and light switches in the way that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. Not because it is expected of us, but because we care for each other.
There will be many other years when we can come together and share a meal and wash each other’s hands or feet. But this year we have a unique opportunity to be Jesus for the world, washing our own hands so that others will be safe, loving one another as God has loved us.
el mensaje del domingo de ramos y la pasión
Las lecturas de hoy nos llevan de un extremo a otro –
Del triunfo a la crucifixión.
Desde la celebración del éxito hasta el rechazo y la traición.
De la certeza a la incertidumbre.
Sin embargo, ¿notaron que también había constancia y fe en esta historia?
Jesús fue constante en su posición, sin ceder ni renunciar a su mensaje de justicia y amor.
Las mujeres estaban constantes en su posición– siguiendo y cuidando a Jesús hasta el pie de la cruz.
Esa constancia frente al desafío es real para nosotros hoy.
Nos bombardean con noticias y consejos contradictorios y no sabemos en quién ni en qué confiar.
La tentación de negar como Pedro o traicionar como Judas también nos desafía.
Pero sobre toda nuestra fragilidad y defectos humanos, podemos aferrarnos a este mensaje: ¡
Dios prevalece! Dios no se rinde y Dios no se rinde.
Dios se aferra al compromiso de Dios de amor, justicia, misericordia y perdón.
Jesús no renunció a su compromiso aun cuando luchó en su humanidad, sabía que Dios prevalecería sobre las acciones más horribles: su propia muerte humillante y vergonzosa en una cruz.
Dios prevalece cuando no nos damos por ventosos, cuando nos aferramos a nuestro cuidado por nosotros mismos y por los demás. Dios prevalece cuando seguimos orando el uno por el otro y por el mundo. Dios prevalece cuando tomamos decisiones que nos mantienen a nosotros y a los demás a salvo.
Dios prevalecerá sobre todos. Recordemos eso ahora y siempre.
Today’s readings take us from one extreme to another – From triumph to crucifixion. From celebration of success to rejection and betrayal. From certainty to uncertainty. Yet did you notice that there was also constancy and faith in this story?
Jesus was constant in his stand – not giving in or giving up his message of justice and love.The women were constant in their stand – following and caring for Jesus even to the foot of the cross.That constancy in the face of challenge is real for us today.
We are bombarded with conflicting news and advice and we don’t know who or what to trust.The temptation to deny like Peter or betray like Judas challenges us too.But over all our human frailty and failings, we can hold on to this message:
God prevails! God doesn’t quit and God doesn’t give up. God holds fast to God’s commitment of love, justice, mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus didn’t quit on his commitment even as he struggled in his humanity, he knew that God would prevail over the most awful actions – his own humiliating and disgraceful death on a cross.
God prevails when we don’t give up – when we hold on to our care for ourselves and others. God prevails when we continue to pray for each other and the world. God prevails when we make decisions that keep us and others safe.
God will prevail over all. Let us remember that now and always.