The church boiler has developed a mind of its own. Giving us no heat at all last evening, it mysteriously turned itself on and then off again during the night, giving us an ambient warmth at 7.30 this morning – a rare luxury. It is surreal to be reading the drama of Holy Week while wondering why the sophisticated digital clock that controls the heat is allowing odd occurrences.
The combination of the unique and the everyday, the great moment and the passing minute, the sublime and the ridiculous, are tensions at the centre of being human.How often one walks from the intensive care unit of a hospital to pass cleaners who are discussing the previous evenings television soap, or leaves a graveside surrounded by grieving relatives to encounter a white van man doing his daily deliveries, or walks from a house numbed by bad news into a street filled with ordinary news; Holy Week and boilers go together.
Even in Jesus’ time the profound and the mundane intermingled. The words at Morning Prayer this morning carried with them that sense of both world-changing drama and trivial concerns.
“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night”.
The disciples cannot read the script. The most portentous words do no more than raise a query in their minds as to whether Judas is going shopping or being charitable.
Sometimes the most difficult part of being a Christian is discerning what is significant and what can be let go, what doesn’t matter and what must be clung on to because it is truly a matter of life and death.