I found myself talking with someone last week about stories, good stories, the kind we want to tell, and more importantly, the kind we want to live.
That’s the thing about stories – all of us have one, all of us are part of one, and stories, whether we like it or not, actually run our lives.
Today, we return again to the most intense part of the story we tell and try to live by. We call this part of the story Holy Week, and one way to tell it is as a story bookended by two crowds; two mobs with things to say and demands to make. But this story isn’t really about those crowds, because the wisdom we are looking for can’t be found in a crowd.
And so here we are, once again heeding Jesus’ instructions and preparing to make our way to a room to eat a meal and hear again what it is he would have us do. We are here once again, because even if we can’t remember all the details, we know a bit about trying to live out our faith in a new way and in the process getting a whole lot more wrong than right.
And that’s why we keep coming back to this story, because it is a story that is true in more ways than one. In it we discover what God is really like and in it we remember that we are a whole lot more than the dark details of our worst failures.
We follow the disciples to a table because we too know what it is like to misunderstand who Jesus is and what he is all about. We listen to Jesus teach about love because we know what it is to be in desperate need of it.
We walk behind Jesus on the road because we know what it is like to have tried to follow him and failed spectacularly. We stand outside by the fire with Peter because we know what it is like to disappoint those we care about most.
We follow Jesus up the hill because we know what it is like to stumble underneath the weight of carrying our own cross. We follow him all the way there and see it all again for ourselves because we know, that in the end, all of this is for us.
We are drawn to this story because it has become our story.
It reminds us that all of this is about God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves. It reminds us that God is willing to help us – even us. It reminds us that the road to our freedom is a road of suffering that we cannot walk for ourselves, but it is a road that Jesus walks for us.
That’s what Love does, it does the things we need that we can’t do for ourselves.
And so, this story is for those who know what it is like to be called a loser while the winners celebrate.
This story is for those who desperately want to fix a broken relationship but who haven’t yet found the path to healing.
This story is for those who know all too well what it is like to find yourself on the outside and away from Jesus.
This story is for all of us who know that something is broken but that the healing is going to have to come from someone else.
That’s why if you find yourself at church this weekend you are likely to see something interesting.
Because the people who are there aren’t there because they have it all figured out. And they aren’t there because they know every part of it beyond a reasonable doubt. They are there for the same reason you are – they know what it is like to need help and they know this is a story about One who gives it.