A Reflection - Revd Fiona
One of the most powerful pictures we have to meditate upon on Maundy Thursday is the washing of the Disciples feet by Jesus ( John 13 vs 1 to 17).
I wonder, have you ever had your feet washed by someone else? In Jesus’ day, foot washing was a fairly regular occurrence as footwear was open toed sandals and you sat on the floor to eat with your feet very likely near someone else’s head. The foot washing would be done by a servant, someone who worked in the lowliest of positions in the household.
In our modern world we might wash our own hands before eating…but feet?? It would feel very strange and unwelcome, as in our culture it is really only done if we are particularly incapacitated, unable to wash ourselves.
As we picture ourselves in that upper room with Jesus, I know that I would be like Peter…”Jesus you shouldn’t be washing my feet, I don’t need you to wash my feet, I’ll manage and anyway you are the Teacher, it’s all wrong”. But Jesus says “without this you cannot belong to me”…and Peter, with his size 12 feet jumps in with “well in that case wash all of me”.
Jesus tells Peter once more “you are missing the point”. It’s not about being physically clean, it is about something deeper. How often do I, do we, miss the point and think we have got this faith thing sorted? The message Jesus was saying to Peter, and to me, was STOP: think, go deeper, understand what I am doing, understand who I am, so that you may grow in your faith.
We first hear of the name of God in Exodus Chapter 3 when Moses hears God’s voice from the burning bush and God says “My name is ‘I am’”. Through this we begin to see the power and majesty of God; but Moses and all the people are not able to look on the face of God (Exodus 33v 20).
The as the story of Israelites unfolds we hear that they fail to be changed by God’s love, fail to grow in understanding: they need to see the face of God, so that they can understand and experience more of God’s love. Therefore God sends Jesus to teach them and us, to reveal more of himself.
So this Maundy Thursday evening, as we stand on our doorsteps; recognising our vulnerability and powerlessness in the face of this pandemic, applauding and giving thanks for all who care for us, we also give thanks that we can see God - we can know and experience His love for us through the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Washing and cleanliness have become all too familiar to us during this pandemic called Covid19. As I meditated on today’s readings, I was struck that, for so many infected by the virus and in hospital, all personal care will be done by someone dressed from head to toe in protective clothing. To help patients know who is caring for them staff write their names on their plastic aprons and yesterday I heard they were putting pictures of themselves on their chests as well, so people could see the human face behind the PPE mask.
Liturgy for today
God is love, and where true love is, God himself is there.
Holy God, source and sovereign,
you put all power and authority into the hands of Christ—
Christ, who washes our feet in humble service.
Teach us to love one another as Christ has loved us,
so that everyone will know that we are his disciples;
through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.
Readings Matthew 26:20-35, Mark 14:32-41, Luke 22:47-62
Let there be love shared among us.
Let there be love in our eyes.
May now your love sweep this nation.
Cause us O Lord to arrive.
Give us a fresh understanding.
Of brotherly love that is real.
Let there be love shared among us.
Let there be love.
Father, as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, we commit to follow his example of love and service.
Lord, hear us and humble us.
As he prayed for his disciples to be one, we pray for the unity of your Church.
Lord, hear us and unite us.
He prayed for those who were to believe through his disciples’ message. We pray for the mission of your Church.
Lord, hear us and renew our zeal.
He commanded his disciples to love, but suffered rejection himself. We pray for the rejected and unloved.
Lord, hear us and fill us with your love.
He reminded his disciples that if the world hated them it hated him first. We pray for those who are persecuted for their faith. Lord, hear us and give us your peace.
As he accepted the cup of death and looked forward to the new wine of the kingdom, we remember those who have died in the peace of Christ.
Lord, hear us and welcome us, your children, into paradise.