Lent 3 – March 4, 2018

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Jesus Christ Superstar 2000

Cartoon

Silent foot washing Loop

Silent Foot Washing Loop

Silent Forgiven Feet Loop

The Bible Project

Working Preacher

The Bible Project

http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/in-a-fight-over-minimum-wage-at-tim-hortons-the-worker-loses/

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-hypocrisy-of-a-tim-hortons-a-business-built-on-coffee-breaks/

http://www.macleans.ca/economy/money-economy/minimum-wage-in-canada-by-the-numbers

https://globalnews.ca/news/3828447/canada-middle-class-income-inequality/

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Halifax

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

 

Words of Welcome
3 breaths – one for the people who are here right now & for those who can’t be – one for the people who have come before us (our parents, congregation, early settlers, Mi’maki, disciples, Jesus) – one for the people who will come in the future (our children & grandchildren, the future congregation of St. Luke’s)
Lighting the Candle & Ringing the Singing Bowl

Hymn We Are Pilgrims (The Servant Song) VU 595

Call to Worship
One: As followers of Jesus, we gather each week,
All: to celebrate, to remember and to learn what Jesus taught his followers.
One: This week we remember that Jesus was both a leader and a worker.
All: We want to learn about Jesus and a leader and as a servant.
One: Because of the way that Jesus chose to lead, today we celebrate that each of us has the possibility to be both leader and servant.
All: Today we worship Jesus the leader and Jesus the servant.

Opening Prayer
Holy Spirit, enter this space, energize our hearts, and open our eyes to the possibility that exists in each of us. May it be so. Amen.

Hymn How Lovely Are The Feet of Them A Laura Beth Original

Theme Conversation Washing

Readings
Jesus Christ Superstar 2000
John 13:1-17
Musical Response Holy Spirit, Hear Us VU 377 v 1 &2

Sermon The Love of a Leader

The last time we heard from the lectionary, we were hearing about the resurrection of Lazarus in the book of John.  Jesus had been away from his family and friends and was called back because his friend was very sick.  Jesus wasn’t able to make it home before Lazarus died.  Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha are angry with Jesus.  Long story short, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb.  It’s at this point that the authorities begin to plan how to get rid of the problem that is Jesus.

Shortly after that is the monumental parade and protest that we celebrate on Palm Sunday, I’m not going to dig into this story today but I wanted you to be aware of where it fits in the timeline of the gospel of John.

After the big parade, one evening in the week before the Passover, Mary (Lazarus’ sister according to the book of John) comes in while Jesus and his boys are sitting around.  She cries as she washes Jesus’ feet, kissing them and drying them with her hair.  She pours an expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet and is rebuked by one of the disciples for wasting expensive ointment when Jesus didn’t need it.  It could have been sold to further their cause.  I suspect that it is at this point that Jesus gets the idea for what he does in the next chapter, but at the time he tells the disciple to let her be, she is living in the moment with him.  He won’t be around forever.  Jesus knows that things cannot stay as they are.

This next part happens sometime before Passover, but not the same night as Mary washed his feet, Jesus ties a towel around his waist and proceeds to wash the feet of each of the disciples.  They are a bit taken aback to say the least.  Jesus reassures them, they may not understand right now, but someday they will.  Jesus knows that he has to do something to get the disciples to understand that the good leader works along side and just as hard as the followers.  It’s not that the disciples deserve to have their feet washed, they do, but everyone deserves to have their feet washed.  Everyone deserves comfort when they are in need.  Everyone deserves the dignity of hospitality.

Washing feet in those days was a sign of respect and hospitality.  Usually a servant was tasked with the dirty, smelly job, so it’s somewhat surprising that Mary chooses to wash Jesus’ feet.  It’s even more surprising that Jesus chooses to wash the disciples feet.  The guest speaker, the celebrity even – washing the feet of those who were called to serve.

But this is what Jesus did.  He used his whole life to be a message of what God’s love is like and told the people that they were called to continue that message, a message of self-giving love.  A message of mutual relationships.

I want to be explicitly clear about this, because some folks are scared right now.  Some people are scared that if we recognize the rights, and maybe even the humanity of other cultures, races, genders, sexualities, ages, educations, languages, abilities, even experiences that “we will lose it all and we’ll be over-run with _____________________________.”  So I’m asking you, did washing the people’s feet take away Jesus’ credibility?  Did it make him less of a leader?  In washing the people’s feet did he lose their respect? All it did was prove his point.  If we all lead from a place of self-giving love, wouldn’t we be a lot better off?

I’ve flown a fair bit in my adult life.  A few times I’ve been upgraded to business class.  Once even on the right length flight, I received a pillow, my water in a real glass, two snacks, the paper and get this – steamy warm towelettes!  Who would have thought something so small as a warmed, toweltte, just moist enough to wipe the grime of a long day of travel off your face and hands.  It felt wonderful.  It wasn’t much more than a paper towel tablet rehydrated with hot water, but not only was it refreshing, but it probably kept me from accidentally ingesting a few extra plane germs.  I didn’t do anything other be in the right place at the right time, but there were probably 100 other germy and tired people on the same plane who didn’t receive a warm towelette.

A similar rehydratable towellette cost less than a quarter.  But they were only offered in business class.  It most likely saved me a cold, a certainly gave me a sense of respect and dignity.  Why is it that we treat some people with more respect than others?

The very first article in in the declaration of human rights is All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.  This was published in 1948 by the United Nations.  Equal dignity, equal rights.  No person is better than another person.

So when I ask myself, is my humanity tied to the amount of respect I give or the amount of respect I get? The answer is always yes.  They should be equal.  To be acknowledged as human is to be treated with dignity and respect.  To be treated to a day of pampering is nice from time to time but it should be reciprocated.

Good leaders and good followers give just as much respect as they get.  That’s what a mutual relationship.  Unfortunately there are some leaders out there that believe that submission and dictatorship is the correct way to lead. Everyone has had a horrible boss at some point.

I spent a very long two month working at Tim Horton’s after I started at AST.  It was interesting how many times I was called stupid, slow, incompetent or was met with sighs and eye rolls for asking a customer to repeat their order as I worked at a part-time job while also studying for my second degree.   It certainly gave me a new appreciation for fast food workers.  I admit, if I’m in line to order and the person ahead of me is rude, I’m going to be extra nice, and I’ll probably say something along the lines of “Jerks are jerks.  Don’t let that one ruin your shift.”

But back to the lectionary reading, what did Jesus mean by embodying God’s love by washing the feet of others?  What does that say about God’s love?  Well, I’ve talked a little bit about the social issues around washing feet.  It was one of those many “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” messages.  But it’s also an intimate act.  God’s love is a personal thing.

Jesus’ demonstration of an intimate, mutual and self-giving love speaks volumes about my understanding of God, but what do our lives 2000 years later say about God’s love?

To me, the message is clear.  We are called to be respectful and caring in all of our relationships.  To treat everyone with the same respect we would treat a beloved friend, and to accept nothing less in return.  We are called to speak up for those who aren’t being treat with respect and dignity and to recognize and deal with systemic injustice for others as if it were our own.  We are also called to recognize that sometimes people make mistakes and offer the same forgiveness that we would wish to be offered, if we had made had made the mistake.

This is what it is to be part of the kindom of God.  To wash and to be washed.  To Love and to be Loved. To invite and to be invited.  Won’t you join me?

Amen.

Music Ministry To Be Like You

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation
Since the message today was all about servant leadership. So today, allow my to put my PAR card in first.

Offertory I Thank You, Thank You Jesus MV 188

Offertory Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music Lord, Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary MV 18

Prayers of the People & the Prayer of Jesus
Ending with the spoken Prayer of Jesus. During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning & Benediction

Musical Blessing One More Step Along the World I Go VU 639

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