Monday, March 25, 2013

Choosing Brokenness or Baptism: Holy Week Wednesday Missal

Matthew 26:20-25 (CEB)

That evening he took his place at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating he said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me.” Deeply saddened, each one said to him, “I’m not the one, am I, Lord?” He replied, “The one who will betray me is the one who dips his hand with me into this bowl. The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” Now Judas, who would betray him, replied, “It’s not me, is it, Rabbi?”  Jesus answered, “You said it.”

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23

The stunning aspect of the Last Supper has to be the fact that Jesus eats with and dips the bread of his betrayer.  Jim Fleming, whose riveting recreation of this dinner scene, teaches us that if Jesus was to give Judas the bread which Jesus himself dips, as this account indicates, then Judas would have been on Jesus' left. That means that Jesus could have reclined on Judas for any or all of this Passover meal, the Last Supper. With Jesus' life in Judas' hands, Judas still chooses his course. 

While some interpreters couch Judas as a drone fulfilling a predetermined plan, you can't get around the fact that here, Judas is apparently acting in a way that he has chosen. We may want the horrifying unraveling of Jesus' last night on earth to fit under the heading of "God's will." But projection and putting it off on God is a way we never have to deal with ourselves. What about the times we reject the way of Jesus? And the times I choose to live in darkness? What if all the actors are free to choose? And we are too? 

The Passion gives us a choice. Do we choose the Judas whom Jesus loved and trusted, and called as his own, or are we to mimic the Judas of betrayal, treachery, and back-stabbing? In Divinity School, one of my mentors (John Westerhoff) insisted that our job as pastors and Christian educators was to equip Christians to live out what our Baptism says we are, not what our brokenness says we are. Being repeatedly told how sinful I am encourages the worst, not the best, of God in my life.

If we choose to remember the words spoken over us in our baptismal waters, we would hear God's opinion of us. In those words, we are:
  • Where Holy Spirit is at work within
  • Growing- in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ
  • Confirmed and strengthened in righteousness
  • Established in faith
  • Living a life fruitful with everlasting joy and peace
  • Faithful disciple of Jesus Christ
  • Born of water and Spirit
  • Partakers of righteousness 
  • Heirs of life eternal
  • Initiated into the Body of Christ
  • Marked as Christian disciple
  • Holy, privileged, given a place
  • Placed unto Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We can choose to live out of what is most true in us or what is most false. What would it mean if we were renewed in the waters- and words- of our baptism? What if we, instead of rehearsing the version of the lying and broken old self, we were recreated and remade by the words spoken over us in our Baptism, by God's love in Jesus?

1 comment:

  1. Scott, I am most aware of God's mercy to me... but when they covered the altar with the black cloth yesterday I cried and felt personally responsible for Christ's crucifixion.


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