The Gospel: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
“Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. 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.”
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
The Message: "And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
"Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."
I am wondering if I am the only one who feels that this Maundy Thursday has a different feel to it this year?
I was aware on Sunday that there was something different in how we gathered for our worship time.
Part of what was happening was that we were free to gather and to celebrate. This was the first Palm Sunday in almost two years when we had the opportunity to celebrate fully and freely. I had a number of people who spoke to me after worship and who mentioned how they were struck by the banners that we hung for Palm Sunday. I found that indicative of something else that I believe was happening for people on Sunday.
Those same banners have been up for the last two years but because we haven't had the opportunity to gather for in-person worship they didn't capture our imaginations the way they did this year.
There was a real sense in our worship on Sunday that this was fresh and new. It was a beautiful sunny morning and we took the opportunity to celebrate the Litany of the Palms in the park and then processed to the Sanctuary and began our worship surrounded by our church community. I don't know about you but I was blessed in a warmly profound way.
Then as we come to this Maunday Thursday I believe that there is an opportunity for us to experience this moment free from some of the restrictions and expectations that may have built up around our experience of Foot Washing.
As we gather tonight I believe that we have an opportunity to recognize the central truth or the central issue of Maunday Thursday. Foot Washing is not a comfortable thing. We find all kinds of reasons to not participate. That is not what I want to focus on this evening.
I chose to read the two passages from the Gospel reading at the beginning of this message because they highlight for me what is really important in the readings and in our gathering this evening.
They both revolve around our willingness to follow Jesus' example. I believe there are very few places in the Scriptures where Jesus is more direct in his statements to his disciples. More often than not as we read or hear scripture we have to do some interpretation of what it is that Jesus wants us to do with his words and his actions.
There is no question about what Jesus wants us to do with this event. Jesus says it outright. He says that he wants us to follow his example. He wants us to be humble, he wants us to serve one another, and he wants us to seek obvious and meaningful ways of putting others before ourselves.
Here is the heart of the Gospel. Now whether you come forward to have your feet washed tonight is not important to me. But I hope that you will truly consider what it is that Jesus is asking of you this evening? Are you willing and able to start or begin a new life in Christ tonight?
I would like to end this evening by reading the very end of our Gospel reading again:
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. 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."