The Basin

By Leslie and Mike Poole


A basin - such as that used by Pontius Pilate - becomes a symbol for the way in which mankind down through history has washed its hands of situations.


2 Narrators


NARRATOR #1: Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.  At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.  So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"  While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." 
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. 
"Barabbas," they answered. 
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. 
They all answered, "Crucify him!" 
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. 
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took the basin of water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.
NARRATOR #2: (holding basin) "I am innocent of this man's blood.  It is your responsibility!"
#1: And with that, Pilate washed his hands of Jesus, pushing away the basin and his  part in the crucifixion of Jesus. (takes basin from #2)
#2: The basin has appeared in front of many people throughout history who had the opportunity to make the choice between accepting responsibility or washing their hands of it and pushing the basin away.  Moments after Pilate pushes the basin away it appears in front of Peter who several times is confronted with the fact that he is a follower of Jesus.  Peter washed his hands of Jesus by denying him three times before the cock crowed.
#1:  I don't know what you're talking about.  I don't know the man. I do not know the man!
#2:  And Peter pushes the basin away. (#1 passes basin to #2)
#1:  The basin is presented to leaders of nations time and time again as they are confronted with war, tyranny and crimes against humanity.  The basin stands before them, forcing them to choose.  Do they stand up against such actions?  Or look the other way?  Accept the responsibility - or wash their hands and push the basin away.
#2:   "We have decided to remain neutral.  We will not interfere in the policies of another government."
#1:  And again, the basin is refused, passed on to another and another. (#2 passes basin to #1)
#2:  The basin passes throughout society and into local communities.  Neighborhoods struggle with issues of homelessness, unemployment and rising crime.  They are confronted with the choice to assist in providing solutions to these problems or refusing responsibility - refusing to get involved.
#1:  "Not in my backyard!"  "They brought it on themselves.  If they would just get a job like the rest of us, they wouldn't need our help."
#2:  Communities refuse to accept responsibility in the issues and push away the basin. (#1 passes basin to #2) Many times with anger and vindictiveness.  But more often than not, with apathy.
#1:  The basin travels even deeper into the fabric of society and into the family structure itself.  Family members wrestle with differences of opinion, lifestyle or beliefs.  Members are confronted with the choice of dialog and understanding or shame, hate and denial.
#2:  "He is dead to me."  "Don't come back in this house again."  "We don't talk about it."
#1:  And again, the basin - and the responsibility - is rejected.  Hands are washed, relationships are severed and no one takes ownership.  The basin is moved on to someone else's hands.
#2:  (#2 then comes from behind #1, and hands #1 the basin)  We are all presented with the basin throughout our lives.  What choices do we make?  Do we take the easy way out?  How clean are our hands after all the washing we do?
#1:  "You can't hold me responsible.  My parents made me the way I am."  "I've always been this way - you can't expect me to change now."
#2:  Throughout our lives we push the basin away many times.
#1: (#1 hands basin to #2) Jesus was presented with the basin.  But instead of washing his hands with it, he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
#2:  "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
#1:  Jesus accepts responsibility in a manner of humility and servanthood and teaches his disciples to do the same.  Jesus chooses to hold on to the basin instead of pushing it away.
#2: The disciples pushed the basin away by betraying Jesus, by denying Jesus, and by walking away from Jesus. They didnít love others as they loved themselves. We push away the basin. We betray Christ in our actions. We deny Christ with our words. Our betrayal and denial occur every time we push away the basin. We donít love others as we love ourselves. But Jesus takes the basin and washes the feet of his disciples. Even Judas is present, to share in the footwashing and the meal. Jesus did wash their feet. Jesus takes the place of the lowest slave. He accepts the basin of servanthood. Jesus loves them to the very end. Jesus loves his disciples knowing they will betray and deny him. Jesus provides for us, even us who are sinners. Jesus took the form of a slave for us. Jesus provided us with baptism and communion. Jesus loves us to the very end. The basin that is passed along, is the basin that holds the water in our baptism. (place basin in the baptismal font) By our baptism, we are called to take the form of slaves. By our baptism, we are called to love others as Christ has loved us. And by loving, by accepting the basin of our baptism, people will know us as Christís disciples.
Copyright Leslie & Mike Poole, all rights reserved.
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