Beloved TCU Friends and Family,
On this Maundy Thursday, our devotional is written by Rev. Monique Crain Spells. Rev. Monique is a strategist, preacher, writer, administrator and ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Rev. Monique is the Past Moderator for the Christian Church in Indiana, and President of the Fellowship of Black Disciples Clergywomen. She is passionate about education, justice-making and wellness. She has served in multiple expressions of the church in her thirty years in ministry, and is currently the Assistant Dean of Admissions for Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. May her words stay with you as we in the days ahead.
John 13:3-8 NRSV, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
We have not had many opportunities to physically touch others over the last year. If we are honest, we were not touching people enough before the pandemic. In sustained difficulty, we have learned to take no opportunity for granted to hug a loved one, hold a hand, or kiss a baby. For those us of us who have lost relatives to this terrible illness, our grief has only been compounded by live streamed or socially distanced funerals where we could not comfort or be comforted by touch. Water touches the fish, bees touch the flowers, and we touch one another. All of creation needs to be touched, even if only by the wind or the rain.
Jesus knew something about this need, as did the women who dared to touch him. On Maundy Thursday, we remember the night Jesus got on his knees and washed the feet of the disciples. He got up from the dinner table with his leadership dressed in humbleness and solidarity. Unsure his friends truly understood what was approaching, Jesus decided he needed to touch them differently. With an attending love, suspended in the urgency of demise, he was willing to get close to the worn and mucky parts of who they were. When we commit to loving as Jesus did, it will require us to get close to those that have been worn down and covered in the woes of this world.
A gaze is one thing, a conversation is something else, but a touch is altogether something more. In our relating to others, we can miss or not fully grasp the weight of what stands before us. Whether it be poverty, inaccessibility, discrimination or cancer, without an experience of proximal vulnerability we can miss the gravity of a matter.
I have had my feet washed by extraordinary people and I have washed the feet of people who betrayed me. These experiences were transcendent. The brokenness of our humanity and presence of something greater connecting us, it came through a touch. The time will come again when we have the opportunity to outwardly live and move more deliberately. Again, we will have opportunities to supplant lip service with a foot-washing-love. Maundy Thursday is a lesson that lives beyond Holy Week. May we learn and embody this lesson.
God, let us lead with a foot-washing-love. Amen.