Greetings to you on this Maundy Thursday. As our Lenten journey comes to a close this week I hope that you find yourself intentionally living into this Holy Week – reflecting upon each of these important days. To assist you with this, I’ve called upon Joretta Marshall, the Executive Vice President and Dean of Brite Divinity School. If you’ve spent any amount of time with Joretta you have undoubtedly experienced her calming presence, an unexpected invitation to go to the deep places within yourself, and a divinely inspired wisdom. Who better to guide us through this Maundy Thursday? I trust that you will be moved by her words for us today, and mindful for what those words mean for the remainder of our week. Open your heart and your mind and allow God to speak to you in these profound words below. As always, blessings on your journey, my friend…
John 13:12-17; 33-35
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Little children, I am with you only a little longer. . . I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
As we move through this Holy Week, we are met by many reminders of Jesus’ life, passion and death. In a world rocked by incredulous violence in Syria, bombings of Christians at worship in Egypt, sounds of gunshots in a classroom in California, and the ongoing fear and anger targeted toward strangers in our midst, we desperately need to be reminded of the passion of Jesus. His was a passion that did not turn away from the suffering of those around him. His love for his friends – and for the world – invited him to wash their feet, share a table of bread and wine, and encourage them to love one another.
Many of us move too quickly through this week, looking only toward the resurrection of Sunday. It is hard for us to sit and walk the path of pain and suffering, whether it is our own pain or that of someone else. Yet, if we listen with our hearts and spirits to Jesus’ invitation, we experience the sacred power of carefully entering into the vulnerability of others. Washing one another’s feet, sitting at the open table of bread and wine, and upholding one another in love opens ourselves not only to the pain of the world, but to the radical love of God.
This is a Christ who journeys with us through our Maundy Thursdays, Good Fridays, and Holy Saturdays. Easter Sunday will come – of that I am certain. There will be time to embrace the gifts of new life. But, before we get to that moment, let us also sit with our feelings of loss, numbness, grief, and fear so that we can ponder anew what it means to be loved by God, and to love one another through it all.
Jesus, you are the teacher who calls us to humble and profound acts of love. The radical gift of God’s love is represented in our kneeling to wash the dirt off someone’s feet, sharing the bread and cup with friends and strangers, and grieving with the lost and forgotten. Be with us as we lean into the hope of an Easter love that extends your love to all. Amen.