I’ll tell you a secret about me. Maybe those of you who have listened to me over the years can guess what it might be, but maybe not. It is not some earth shattering secret. I am not about to tell you some deep dark secret from my past. Rather it is about the way I approach scripture, and increasingly the way I approach life.
The secret is that I am fascinated by the obscure; by the small; by the almost throw-away lines in the gospels. Sure I love the great passages like the Prologue in John’s Gospel. Yes, I can’t wait morning by morning as we read our way through Genesis or Kings at Morning Prayer to hear what happens next to Joseph or David. Certainly, I relish the parables in Luke and I find great consolation in Paul’s letters. But what fascinates me, what intrigues me, what captures my imagination and holds my attention are not the great stories or the wonderful literary passages but the obscure names, the fleeting references, the tiny two and three and four letter words like “go”, “tell” and today “now”.
“Go”, Jesus says “and make disciples of all nations ….”
“[T]ell his disciples … that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him,” says the Angel of the Resurrection to Mary Magdalene that first Easter morning.
“Now my soul is troubled.”
“Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.”
Now, now, now, Jesus says.
Something important has happened because, until this moment, Jesus has repeatedly said: “My hour has not yet come”, as he said to his mother at the wedding in Cana and his brothers before the Feast of Booths. “My hour has not yet come.” Now is not the time. But something has happened, and now, now is the time. Now.
I am sure we have all had moments in our life when “now was not the time.” Now was not the time to move or to move on; to begin or to begin again. Now was not the time to start, or to finish or change. For all sorts of reasons now was not the time. Perhaps it had something to do with you, or perhaps it had something to do with someone else. But it was clear to us that the hour had not yet come.
But then something happens. Something imperceptible or significant happens to you or to someone else and whereas yesterday was not the time, now is the time. Now is the time to move on, to begin again, to start over, or even to finish something, to end it, to complete it.
It seems that this happened for Jesus. Yesterday was not the time, but now is the time. His hour at last has come and he is ready for whatever comes next. And what comes next unleashes a whole host of events that reverberates to this very day. What comes next shaped history, changed lives and ultimately brought us all to this very place. For what came next had to do not only with Jesus, but with you and me as well.
What came next was water and towel, bread and wine, kiss and cross, tomb and terror, light and life. What came next was seeing, and sending and saying. Now is the time for Jesus and in a few short days we will hear him say “it is finished.” And for Jesus, his work will be done. But for us it will be just beginning.
So pay attention. Pay attention to what happens in the next few days. Pay attention to what goes on around you and within you. Pay attention to the water on your feet and the roughness of the towel in your hand. Pay attention to the softness of the bread and the sting of the wine in your throat. Pay attention to the brusqueness of the kiss and the splinters of the cross. Pay attention to the coldness of the tomb and the terror that clutches your heart. Pay attention to the brightness of the dawning light and the life that bursts forth.
Something has happened and now, now is the time Jesus tells us for him to be lifted up from the earth that he might draw all people to himself.
But soon, soon it will be our time to see, and be sent and to say so that all the world may believe.
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