We have an Instructional Eucharist at 10:30 today – as we go through the service we explain what everything means. Our faith and its expression involve signs and symbols everywhere, especially in a sacramental tradition such as the Anglican one. And they take some explaining and learning, in order to understand them.
Faith isn’t just about head belief: it encompasses mystery, story, paradox, heart, soul. We reach out to symbol and ritual because they can convey more than mere words.
Jesus’ ministry, too, was about actions, healings, parables – not just words.
He used stories, metaphors, examples from nature, tangible objects, food and drink, bodies.
And yet still his followers and friends didn’t get it. They didn’t really understand, until well after his death and resurrection.
So in the final days of Jesus’ life he used Show and Tell to act out his message:
- that he came with peace from God, not violence (hence riding on a donkey)
- that he came to serve and love and forgive (so he washed his disciples’ feet)
- that he would give his very self, his body and blood, out of love (he shared bread and wine at the Last Supper and said it was his body and blood)
- that he would challenge a corrupt and oppressive state and religion, even if it cost him his life (and that led him to the cross and crown of thorns)
- that the love and justice of God cannot be overcome (so the great symbol of our Easter faith is an empty tomb)
We still don’t get it, so we need repeatedly to walk through it and experience it.
That’s what Holy Week is: re-learning the truths too profound for our minds to grasp, by holding a palm cross, sharing a meal, having our feet washed, eating bread, sipping wine, seeing and touching the large cross, gathering in darkness to light a new fire, and finally bursting into hymns of joy like champagne corks flying. Rich symbols, holy sacraments, to convey our faith to one another and to re=learn it again ourselves at deeper and deeper levels.
So come this week, take part, be touched or moved or baffled or surprised.
Come as you are: that’s all God ever asks of us; that’s enough to get started.
Come and share this sacred journey. Amen.