Maundy Thursday. Here we are again, like Jesus and the disciples at the Passover. There they were, again. Same thing, year in, year out. Same words, same ritual, same ending. And Leonard Cohen is in my head as I say about that ending: Everybody Knows.
Tempting as it is to wade through his famous song, even to Calvary, I won’t. It would pander to my politics and sense of justice, but I won’t because everybody knows the rules of the game, and the system always wins.
But that’s not good enough.
And tonight, in the washing of the feet, we begin to see that it is not true.
Because tonight, and in the liturgies of Good Friday, and in the Great Silence of Holy Saturday, if you listen carefully, you will hear a note; a sacred chord; something like a key-change in the drone that, some people say, is the background noise of all creation.
It is the song of new creation.
It is the sound of the wind of change blowing through the cracks in your – our – broken world.
You see, Jesus didn’t die on the cross just so that we can do the same thing, say the same words, sing the same song, year in year out down the centuries. He was a Jew: such treasure was available already in the Law of Moses, in the cycle of festivals; at Passover.
With the breath of his mouth, in ordinary words and ordinary actions offered in extraordinary ways, Jesus sings the song of creation made new.
It is the song of a new heart made right within us.
It is the anthem of the peaceable Kingdom of God.
It is the sound of evil drawing breath for a shout of triumph, only to expel it in a scream of outrage.
What Jesus does on this night, is the inauguration of the New Covenant, the entry of grace as a force in the world; the primacy of that love which, in the King James version of the Bible is called both ‘charity’ and ‘loving kindness’: the love that dies for the beloved and, in so dieing, finds Himself eternal.
This liturgy that Christ works, this song, culminating in the ascending fanfare of the resurrection on Saturday night/Sunday morning, is the sound of every foundation cracking below every throne, toppling every seat of worldly power.
It is the song of souls set free at last.
If we come to church, in these Holy Days, year in year out, seeking the same old thing, we come seeking a show; a performance. And we may be disappointed because that is not why Christ comes to us.
If we come seeking change, in our hearts, in our lives, in our world, we come seeking Christ. And that, as the disciples will soon realise, is a very dangerous, sometimes frightening, and always transforming, thing to do.