Thursday, October 10, 2013
Jesus is headed to Jerusalem. Along the way he encounters 10 lepers. Nine of the lepers are Jewish and one is a Samaritan. They all beg for mercy and all of them are healed of their disease. The Samaritan returns in gratitude to thank Jesus and to praise God.
Jesus tells the man that faith healed him. Did faith also heal the other nine who did not return to thank Jesus and praise God? Jesus sends the Samaritan home and he makes his way towards Jerusalem.
In this moment of healing, Jesus is about collecting all that separates us from one another and God. Leprosy separated and created outcasts. Jesus took their place as an outcast. Jewish and Samaritans saw each other as inferior. Jesus took their place as the inferior one.
Jesus had done this many times during his time of proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven. Each time he healed someone; cast out a demon; raised the dead; fed the hungry; or gave sight to the blind, he took their place of being an outcast. By the time Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he is filled to overflowing with the burdens of the world that separate us.
He took these burdens with him to the cross and they were nailed up with him in a very public way for all to see. He took what separates and kills us into himself and allowed us to judge him worthy of death. We acted out our usual ways of treating one another on him.
On Sundays, we come together and Jesus continues to walk among us and collect the things that separate us and which unleash toxic wrath in our world. These things are gathered and given form in the Eucharistic bread and wine which when blessed become for us a way of giving thanks that overcomes everything that separates us from one another and God and which swallows up wrath in one gracious act of God in Christ.
When we come to the Words of Institution we hear that in the midst of being handed over to suffering and death, in the midst of bearing our burdens and enduring human wrath, Jesus gives thanks. No one would envy Jesus. No one would wish to take his place. The very thing for which he gave thanks, none of us would have wanted to fall upon us.
But Jesus gives thanks (this very word describes our Sunday worship as Eucharist).
On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."
After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."
Come and join in the thanksgiving of Jesus.