As we reflect on Maundy Thursday, I can’t think of a better reflection for the day than a message given some years ago by Rev. Phil Hardy of Life’s Journey UCC. I hope it blesses you!
Your progressive redneck preacher,
Judas come home………
I believe that each year, Holy Week offers us an opportunity to be reconciled with our brother Judas. He has come to represent all those we reject and all that we reject about ourselves.
Each Holy Week offers us the opportunity to be healed of the inclination we have as human beings to scapegoat those we have come to blame for the clear reality that the world is not what it should be. This particular Holy Week has come around during a period of our history in which “religious freedom” is dominating our conversation once again. Many of us in the Christian world will journey toward tables of Communion on Maundy Thursday. What might happen if our religious freedom became the vehicle we employed to find a place at the table for those we have come to identify as the Judas of the world?
Consistently in the Gospels it is a Table to which the world is invited to experience a feast which creates communion with God and among the beings of the earth. Dr. James Forbes is the retired pastor of Riverside Church in New York and in my estimation one of the great preachers of our generation. He grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina in a large and loving family and tells a story which occurred and re-occurred at their table.
As one of eight brothers and sisters any meal was an event likely to create some memories. With time they grew older and became more involved in school, church and work activities. This meant that often at least one or more was absent when it was time for the evening meal. Because she was busy in the kitchen, his mother often couldn’t see or be certain who was present in the dining room. Before the blessing could be said or a bite taken of the meal she called from the kitchen and asked: “Are all the children at the table?” If anyone was not at the table, those present prepared a plate so that it would await them when they arrived home from their activities.
In the Gospel image of the Divinely set Table there is a place for the broken, beaten and abused and unless I misunderstand the invitation there will ultimately be a place for the abusers. When all the invitations have gone out there will be a place for the humble, the meek and the mild but also a place set for the arrogant and down-right cocky. All the places will not be occupied until the victims of oppression take their seats next to their oppressors. The Voice will keep calling out from the kitchen to ask: “Are all the children at the table? That Voice will not grow hoarse until the Table is full, multi-colored and vibrating with a diversity which would stretch the wildest of imaginations.
I don’t know what sort of transformation would be required to bring us all to a Table where we care for and protect one another but I do like to imagine what it would look like if Judas came home.