We are God’s Glory – a Holy Week meditation

Maundy Thursday marks the third of Acting Bishop Dorsey McConnell’s series of daily meditations during Holy Week.

“The meditations address a question that was posed at Synod, Who Are We?, and are based on six images used by Saint Paul to describe the Church in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 For. 2:14-5:21),” says Bishop Dorsey. “Each is linked to a particular moment in Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, beginning with the Triumphal Entry, and ending with the appearance of the risen Lord to Mary Magdalene. Each concludes with an appropriate collect.

“I invite you to use these for your own devotions as we move day-by-day more deeply into the Mystery of Mysteries. Please also consider the daily reflections and resources in our Lent Course already posted on our website.

“I hope these may provide you with sustenance and encouragement as we together walk the Way of the Cross.”

Thursday 28 March – We are God’s Glory

When he had dipped the morsel , [Jesus] gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  Then, after the morsel, Satan entered into him.… He immediately went out; and it was night.  When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified….” (John 13:26-27,30-31)

We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This last night with their Teacher, his disciples do not feel very glorious. They carry the full weight of all the things he has been warning them about for a long time. They know he is going, but they aren’t sure where. They want re-assurance, clarity. Show us the Father, Philip says, and we shall be satisfied. He does not understand that Jesus already has shown them the Father.

It happened a few minutes earlier. Jesus gets up in the middle of dinner, puts aside his clothes, wraps a towel around his waist, and pours water into a basin. He might be thinking, if all the words of his teaching had so little effect in them, if they were still as dense as ever, perhaps this would make a difference, to show them who he is, who God is. But there is something more.

He wants to make them part of his glory.

They lie on floor cushions as they eat. And now their Lord goes, on his knees, from one to another bathing their naked feet as they lie there. This is who God is, he silently declares, this is my glory. He is giving them a foretaste of his Cross. He is also giving them a choice. The glory of the Son of man will be revealed in his suffering and death: will you be a part of it, or not?  Will you say, Yes or No?

Judas says No. He goes out, and it is night.

From his vantage point, lying close to Jesus, John sees the door open as Judas leaves and sees the black sky beyond: a plain of darkness into which the betrayer walks, trapped in his pride and self-will. But Jesus exults. Now is the Son of man glorified. The Cross is now guaranteed. His Passion is coming. And he has only lost one.

He knows that they aren’t yet completely a part of him. They won’t be until after he dies, until they reckon with all the ways they need to be washed. Some of what he has shown them has sunk in, but a lot is still on the surface, swirling about in their minds, not yet settled into their hearts. But that will come. Once his body has been broken and his blood shed, they will be joined to his glory. They will know it every time they confess their sins, and whenever they pour themselves out, loving one another as he has loved them, and loving the world in his name.

So, Jesus goes to face his glory, his Cross. His friends go to face theirs. Can we now face ours?

O God, who by the passion of your blessed Son, made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer pain and loss for the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.