Sermon for Maundy Thursday

A couple of weeks ago on Passion Sunday I preached about Mary washing Jesus feet with her tears, kissing them, and drying them with her hair. I said how it potentially put Jesus into an embarrassing situation, but he just took it in his stride and allowed her to love him in the best way she knew how. “She has done a beautiful thing for me” – he said to those who criticised and muttered. He was also doing a beautiful thing for her, by allowing her to be so intimate and extravagant with her love.
At the last supper it was Jesus’ turn to potentially embarrass his disciples,
when he took a bowl, a towel, and water, and began to wash their feet. And he succeeded, especially with Peter, who initially was very resistant and reluctant. We always tend to imagine Jesus being very solemn while he performed this task, perhaps also a little melancholic as he anticipated all that was to follow. And perhaps this is so, but I have sneaky feeling that Jesus quite enjoyed himself making his disciples squirm! I bet he was very tempted to kiss his disciples feet as well, and maybe even dry them with his hair!
In this sense Mary Magdalen anticipated this moment with what she did,
or maybe she even inspired Jesus and gave him the idea, prompting him to become more intimate in his friendships during the his final days. Jesus was always willing to learn from others. Either way, Jesus knew that if his work was to continue after he had gone, then this strange assembly of misfits he had gathered around him were the ones who would have to do it. For that to happen they needed to shocked into opening their hearts, and embracing their brokenness, so they could truly love and serve, and be truly human.
Each of them in their way were broken vessels – cracked and vulnerable.
That is why Jesus chose them. It is only broken people that truly know how to love, care, forgive, accept. They were going to be broken even further in the days to come, Jesus began the breaking by gentle, intimate, maybe embarrassing, love.
“There’s a crack in everything,” wrote the singer Leonard Cohen in one of his songs. “There’s a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in.” This night and the coming days, more than anything, are a calling to us to embrace our brokenness. To embrace the times we have messed up, to embrace our mistakes, to embrace our frailties and vulnerabilities and not be afraid of them. Because Jesus knew that it was how the light gets in. The light of God’s holy love and reckless generosity.
The saints we have explored during Lent were all broken people in one way or another. Their brokenness was the seed of their saintliness, as it is the seed of ours. So as we begin this holy and sacred journey with our Lord, may we embrace our own brokenness and allow the cracks in our lives, to be the conduits of our transformation into what God is calling us to be.