At the wonderful little Communion service that I sometimes attend on Thursday mornings, one particular phrase just jumped out at me from the Eucharistic Prayer A today: “On the night when he was handed over to suffering and death, Our Lord Jesus Christ took bread…”
Tonight — “Maundy Thursday” — is that night.
It’s good for me to remember that Jesus took more than than bread and wine in his hands to bless and give to his disciples that sacred evening. He took their dirty feet, too. He gently washed them, setting for them — and us — an example of servant leadership. It is a role that I have difficulty not only taking on, but accepting…especially from Jesus. I am that old curmudgeon Peter in the painting by Ford Maddox Brown, not appearing a bit happy that his Lord has stooped so low…for him!
But it was even more than sharing a meal, and showing servant leadership. Today’s Gospel reminds me that Jesus set before us a “new COMMANDMENT” (hence the name “Maundy”): “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” This parting instruction of Jesus to his disciples, I believe, is not “love” as in the the warm and fuzzy noun of feelings and sweet emotion (although that’s nice work if you can get it). But more important, it is I believe Jesus showing me and commanding me to “love” as the verb — that is, to do those act(s) of loving and caring and sacrifice, at all times and in all places and toward all persons, even if (maybe especially if!) I don’t really feel like it.
Oh, that is so hard for me to remember sometimes, and of course even harder for me to do. But so important.
It’s a little easier if I can just allow myself on those blessed days to let go of my lawyer self, and allow for the very real possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is an Omnipotent Perfectly Loving Creator who lends a Guiding Hand in the ultimate outcome.
One Who is willing even to wash my feet.