Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Thursday, April 14, 2022

YEAR C 2022 maundy thursday

Maundy Thursday, 2022
Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Psalm 116:1, 10-17

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Well, tonight we’ve got a classic moment where Peter has completely lost his mind.  It’s like the absolute pinnacle of Peter being Peter.  There is no middle ground with him.  Never a middle path.  It’s either every possible thing or absolutely nothing.  Jesus tells him he is going to wash everyone’s feet, and Peter says, “You will never wash my feet.”  Jesus says, unless I do, you will have no share with me.”  And Peter immediately goes to the other extreme and says, “Not only my hands and feet but also my head!”

It’s like Jesus says, "Peter, let me make you a sandwich.”  And Peter declines, until he hears that it’s necessary for Jesus to serve him, so then Peter says, “Lord, not just a sandwich.  But cook my dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast as well.”  Like I said, no middle ground with Peter.  He’s like a little kid sometimes.  But, it’s interesting, that what gets Peter to that place is focusing on himself.  It’s not about Jesus serving him; it’s about what Peter gets out of it, right?  Not what Jesus is doing, but what Peter receives.

In the first case, where he refused to let Jesus serve him, Peter is trying to set himself apart from the other disciples.  Like, “I’m too humble to let Jesus serve me.”  And then later, he’s acting like he’s got to get the absolute most of what Jesus is offering to do.  And the message from Jesus is, “You are beloved, not better than.”  Beloved, not better.

And then here’s a thing about this story that I never noticed until this year.  Can you guess who else is beloved, not better?  Who is welcome, not worse?  Judas Iscariot, that’s who.  Jesus washes all the disciples feet.  Judas has not yet left to do quickly what he must do.  He’s still there.  And, as Jesus says to Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”  This means all twelve disciples have “a share with” Jesus—whatever that phrase may mean.  All 12 having a share includes Judas.  Beloved, not better.  Welcome, not worse.  Whatever Jesus is doing in this washing of his disciples’ feet, he is doing it both to Peter and to Judas, along with all the others.  Beloved, not better.  Welcome, not worse.

We call today Maundy Thursday.  Maundy comes from the latin word, maundatum, which in English becomes “commandment.”  Think of our word “mandatory.”  In many churches tonight, people will wash one another’s feet, as a sign of humility and service.  Some Christians, like those in the Church of God, view foot washing as something like another sacrament.  But here’s at St. Timothy’s, this has never really been part of our tradition.  And to be honest, I’m glad for that.

Because foot washing—for us—does not mean what it meant for Jesus and his disciples.  In our own society, more than anything, foot washing is awkward and uncomfortable for the person whose feet are being washed, which is definitely not the point Jesus was making.  To wash someone’s feet in Jesus’ day was a sign of service and humility—most likely taking on the role of an indentured servant girl, as a matter of fact.  In our day and time, it’s like the roles are reversed: you have to humble yourself to let someone do the washing, rather than be the washer.  It all gets reversed, when you think about it.

But Jesus does indeed give us a commandment tonight.  And if you look at the story, the commandment—this maundatum—is not a commandment to wash one another’s feet.  We know this, because Jesus comes right and tells us what the commandment is.  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”  That’s the commandment: to love one another.  And the foot washing is an example of how you might have done that in Jesus’ day.  But how do we follow this commandment to love one another in our own time.

Well, I suspect it will be different for each of us.  But by giving us the example of taking on the role of a servant, Jesus points the way.  “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

May God give us the inspiration and the courage to love as Jesus loves.  And in doing so, others will know that we are disciples of Jesus.  Beloved, not better.  Welcome, not worse.  Just disciples of Jesus, following his commandment to live in love, as he loves us.  To walk in love, as Christ loves us, and gave himself, an offering and a sacrifice to God. 


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