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"Intimacy": Sermon for Wednesday in Holy Week, Year B; Consecration of the Baptismal Font

The lessons for this Wednesday in Holy Week spoke to me over and over about intimacy…

Intimacy…a relationship that extends to the inner most depths of being…a relationship that often results in love and respect…a relationship that recognizes and accepts individual gifts and limitations.

The reading from Isaiah is the third Servant Song…the passage describes teaching not merely as a vocation but as a gift from God…

The purpose of this teaching is to “sustain the weary with a word” and that word remains central to life sustaining religious practices.

It appears that as the servant teaches those who will listen, he is also surrounded by attacks from all sides…

But he sets his face like flint and this flint symbolizes resoluteness with a sharp edge, but also the spark that occurs when the flint is struck.

This spark is what is needed to light the fire of faith and love in those who would hear…

So we have in this reading that sweet picture of intimacy as one awakens, greeting the day and the Lord, and listening as God whispers the words of love and reconciliation.

And the determination of sharing that God given gift of intimacy and learning with others…no matter the cost…often surrounded by enemies, but sustained by God.

In the Gospel, we find ourselves in a story of profound intimacy…Jesus has just washed the feet of His disciples and revealed to them that one of them will betray Him…

Simon Peter asks Jesus who is the one that will betray…

Who among them will commit such a horrible act…Imagine if you will, Jesus surrounded by those He loves and those who love Him.

He is telling them that He must die and He has knelt down before each of them and loving washed their feet…

Holding each foot in His hand, washing, drying, praying over each of them…washing the skin of His beloved friends…giving to them the gift of touch; of intimacy.

Jesus…Remembering and absorbing the moments that each have shared with Him and giving to them the gift of remembering this time after His death…

And one who is a lost sheep out of time leaves this precious moment… takes his leave from the light of the World and as the Gospeller tells us surrenders to the darkness of the night…

A time where darkness is juxtaposed with light…intimacy and love juxtaposed with treachery and the breaking of community.

Tonight we are the recipients of that intimate community that survived and flourished in love and reconciliation.

And because of that we have the privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist...The privilege of the healing liturgy…the laying on of hands and anointing...the privilege of baptism...

Through the generosity of a family, we have been given a beautiful baptismal font…

I had the privilege of watching Joseph Giovannetti assemble the font…It came to us in about 60 pieces …pieces carved by Joseph with ancient tools.

Using ancient methods that he learned from his grandfather and father…

He would not allow anyone to help him bring the pieces into the nave, and he carried each one by hand.

It was snowing the day he began and by evening, he was soaking wet from his multiple trips to the truck.

He worked for two weeks as we came and went admiring his work…he was polite, but his attention never wavered from his task…

As he applied the protective coating to the font, it was almost too intimate to watch.

He lovingly caressed the marble and the statues of Mary Magdalene, Andrew, John the Baptist, and Paul…

The font is a precious gift to the church, to the memory of Lucy and Novie, and to all who will be baptized and to all who will witness baptisms in this sacred space in the years to come…

It is an evening of intimacy…an evening where the lessons remind us of God’s great desire to be in relationship…

Of God’s willingness to whisper into our ears the words that will teach us how to be the people of God.

Of God’s willingness to hold us in the palm of His hand and wash our feet …to wash away the weariness of the day with His touch and prayers.

And it is an evening when we recall in our hearts and minds the memory of two sisters who were gifts to us and in whose memory we will continue the gift of baptism.

Amen

References: Word Search Bible 10, The New Oxford Annotated Bible; the Fourth Addition

Amens

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