When I was young, I used to think that the Maundy Thursday evening church services were boring and useless, during Holy week. Maybe it was because my mother always said, “Before we participate in Communion, we must forgive each other and ask those who we have issues with to forgive us”. Of course this was a hard pill to swallow.
At Elgin-Portland Pastoral Charge, where I have been serving since February 1, 2013, we started doing short Maundy Thursday services at 6:30 p.m. so that even the choir members can join, as choirs meet at 7:30 every Thursday.
That is when it came to me… Maundy Thursday is the time when Jesus truly called his disciples to discipleship. The Last Supper, as we call it, is really The Supper of Invitation to the Mission of God. When Jesus washes the disciples’ feet; breaks the Bread; and shares the Cup, he is saying, “Do as I have done and Love and Serve one another wastefully”.
This year, as I poured water on every single persons’ hands/fingers and said the words, “You are Beloved” I also said in my heart, “God, if there is any negativity in me and in them that is hurting us, wash it away just like the waters of Baptism Bathes us with Your Grace”.
As Walter Brueggemann writes in his recent book (A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent – page 88).
“The drama of the towel provided an example for the disciples to replicate:
- Replicate the truth that you have come from God; you are not your own.
- Replicate the truth that you will go to God, your future is assured.
- Replicate that the space between you and others is filled with a towel.
- Replicate that as you travel with towel and basin, you will be safe in vulnerability, treasured in obedience, and free from anxiety.”
And he concludes this devotion with this (page 89):
“In this act, Jesus summoned and constituted an alternative community of which we are heirs. Imagine that a small community set down in the midst of the empire and all it aggressive militarism is a small community that refuses to participate in the anxiety of the world, because it imitates birds and lilies in the sure confidence that God in heaven knows our needs and supplies them.”
On this Maundy Thursday, where the mundane act of washing becomes an invitation to a way of life other than our own, may you find the courage to do what Jesus did and to go where you never thought you would go.
Easter is my very favourite time of the year, as we are Resurrection People. It is because of Easter we gather every Sunday morning and celebrate the New Life, Week, Day. When I drove to Elgin United Church to get ready for this service, I was tired and I thought, I would never make it through. However, as soon as I started reading the opening words, a power that came upon me that is beyond my understanding. As we concluded the service and I was returning home – I met wonderful deer in the field that were enjoying their own supper and bathing in the loving sunset – and there it was a red winged blackbird sitting on a tall twig, which always makes me wonder, whenever I see them: “How do they trust that skinny branch and sit at the side of the road.”
So, my rejuvenated spirit became content, not just by the Maundy Thursday service attendance, but by the power that I was gifted with and the Universe that I was able to share it with on my drive home.
I offer you this prayer:
Through Jesus you showed us the better way of life.
The example to follow and to imitate.
To be the voice of the voiceless,
Bringing Peace, Hope and Joy in the middle of the chaos
in the middle of the night.
May we refuse anxiety as Jesus did and trust you to the grave and beyond.
May we sit upon your lap and trust that you hold us eternally and May we enjoy the abundant banquet that you offer us and share that with others, unconditionally.
We pray in the name of the One who lives in us and though us because of your Love, Grace and Mercy. Amen.