Maundy Thursday Reflection

Revd Sarah
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 8:30pm

Maundy, Mandatum, commandment. It’s on this day, Maundy Thursday, that Jesus gives a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. And as we contemplate Jesus’ commandment, we see Jesus not standingbefore us, but stooping and kneeling at our feet.  wash one another’s feet, as he washes ours.

At the ordination service for deacons in this diocese, our bishops Tim, Jonathan and David wash the feet of each ordinand before they anoint and bless them for their ministry. Ordained for life-long kneeling, self-sacrificial, servant ministry, reaching out into the forgotten corners of the world that the love of God may be made visible.

priest’srole is in so many ways to be invisible, to get themselves out of the way, to point to Christ, to serve as a channel which helps clear the sight lines where all may gaze on the love of Christ. 

No more so than tonight, when priests or whoever is blessed with this servant role, kneels at the feet of fellow disciples and washes the feet of others with the cleansing love of Christ.  This is a blessed ministry in which we all share of course, as we all serve in our vocations as Christian disciples, washing the feet of others.

But how much more uncomfortable and courageous it is to haveourfeet washed by another?  It makes us feel vulnerable. We become aware of the imperfections of our feet as we expose them, but we’re also rendered immobile and reliant on another as the feet that we need to get around are forced to rest, be still, be washed. Tonight again we’re brought to a standstill to focus on the essence of love in our lives – the overwhelming, cleansing, comforting, restorative, love of Christ.  

Tonight, imagine yourself sitting here or any place in your imagination, having yourfeet washed, not simply by another human being but by Jesus himself. Imagine how it feels to have Jesuswash your feet? To kneel before you, physically washing you, the care of his hands, the softness of the water?  And as he washes your feet where is your gaze – at the figure washing you?  But where do you see Jesus’ face?

Isn’t it as we look into the dirty water that we see the face of Christ reflecting back at us? Washing us clean as we look into ourdirty water from ourdirty feet? And the dirtier the better, from feet which have been stripped bare of our self protections and trappings of power, walking as pilgrim disciples out alongside others on the rough paths of life. 

It’s here, as we look to our feet, see the dirt, feel the love of Jesus cleansing us, that we are astonished to find that it is our God who kneels in humility, service and love for us.  How much we are in need of that love. How much we are in need of being able to freely give that love to others, as he loves us. 

Shoes on or shoes off, our love is expressed in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.The events of Jesus’ whole life in ministry ultimately strip him of power, status and authority.  He washes his disciples feet at this point, tonight, at the Last Supper - close to his death, and kneeling as a servant, reminding us of our expendibility and that true authority lies in our service to one another.  

To give, to receive, to trust, in love whatever the cost or the agony or the isolation or the denial or the betrayal. To bear the pain for others even when it starts to strip us bear.  In such love we see Jesus. 

And so we get up and walk on in our worship this evening, kneeling at our Lord’s Table this night, open and empty handed to receive his love. We are witnesses again this night to the mysteries of Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper with his friends: of taking, blessing, breaking, sharing bread and wine, his broken body and blood. 

And then on we journey with Jesus as we are stripped back to the essence.  As we strip the church bare, remove all the cloths, furniture and ornaments, snuff out the candles, we experience something of what it is to be the essenceof Church without the trappingsof church. 

To be people ready to follow Jesus without anything else. Our gaze is on the cross - savage agony and simple beauty.  sacrifice, forgiveness, salvation, love.

Our worship tonight doesn’t end...there’s no blessing, no dismissal, just an invitation to go ‘out into the night’, whether you go home or come to the churchyard. We’re invited to go out into the night of Gethsemane, to watch, to wait, to pray.

And when the time comes, what is it to be one of the ones who cannot watch and wait any longer, who slips off to bed.  Meanwhile, Jesus goes to his death.  

And we reconvene tomorrow, on Good Friday, with the church and our inner selves perhaps, stripped naked as we come to look up to the cross. 

We come.....and we see our Jesus hanging there.