It is a week that begins so well.
The crowds roar their delight as he rides into town:
Word is on the street.
He is teaching, healing,
and the crowds surround him.
Mid-week, the mood turns
along with the tables in the Temple.
Not good for business,
all this chasing folk from stalls,
making whips from cords,
berating them for just earning a living,
running about as if he owned the place.
These country folk don’t understand
the art of tact and diplomacy.
Hackles on backs are raised
while there are still some who seek a miracle.
His friends are getting twitchy watching
as he dances dangerously on the edge.
Wary, they walk the city
trying to keep a low profile,
keeping their heads down
and wishing that he would do the same.
He doesn’t play the game:
speaks out against the powers that be
for not caring for the least,
for loving privilege more than these.
On Thursday, his friends are fractious,
cracking under stress.
He bids a couple to go prepare a meal.
Over bread and wine and blessing,
he talks of his body breaking and bleeding,
wants them to eat the bread
and drink from his cup of suffering.
It’s all too much,
and they lash out at one another:
fingers point and accusations fly.
They fight for top position
on what is feeling like a sinking ship.
His words, though quiet,
cut through the conversation:
overturn their notions.
He tells them of God’s kin-dom,
built on loving service:
seeing, hearing, those ignored
and those unheard,
and making space at the table
That kind of talk will get him killed....
'A time, and a place'
'The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death,
for they were afraid of the people.'
In the city, in the halls of religious power, there is fear.The unruly rabbi has been causing trouble.
Proclaimed by palm-waving crowds,
popularity has gone to his head.
His habit of spending time with outcasts is offensive;
his unholy act of anger in the Temple is verging on the seditious.
They must put him in his place, contain him.
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying,
'Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.'
In an upper room, the table is made ready for the feast.
He is eager, they are puzzled;
wine is poured and bread is blessed.
The One who is the Word speaks into startled silence:
breaks bread, and says it’s his body, broken;
pours wine, talks of the shedding of his blood.
This, a meal, not soon forgotten.
'I am among you as one who serves.'
At the table, tempers fray:
ambition unmasked, they fight for power.
The beloved teacher watches as they squabble.
Three years and yet they’ve missed his point entirely.
Quietly, he pours water into basin,
takes the towel,
and kneels before them:
gives them the place of honour with a servant’s heart.
There is still a little time to learn...
'A growing darkness'
Symbolic actions could be incorporated into this reflection,
either by the person reading, or done by another while this is being read.
This could be used just prior to Communion.
Begin with lights dimmed, if possible....
Act I: The Plot
(coins are placed on table at one side)
Shadows creep and darkness deepens,
fear hangs heavy in the air.
Terms agreed - a secret meeting;
betrayal, sanctified by prayer.
Act II: The Meal
(table is ‘dressed’ with a candle, at each end and lit; bread and wine is placed centrally on the table)
Friends now gather, drawn together,
Jesus calls them to the feast.
Blessing bread and wine, he bids them:
‘Do this to remember me.’
Act III: The Fight
(symbols of power - e.g. hammer, crown, or badge of office - are placed next to the coins)
As they eat, the talk grows heated;
bitterly, they fight for power.
Oil lamps flicker, shadows lengthen,
time circles closer to his hour.
Act IV: The Servant
(a towel and basin of water is added to the table opposite side of coins/ power symbols)
Lamplight dims—their eyes upon him
as he speaks of sacrifice,
and of the power of humble service.
Judas walks out into night...