April 8, 2020
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. John 13:1-5
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On this, the eve before Maundy Thursday, I invite you to ponder the scene of the Last Supper. After this meal and his prayers in Gethsemane, Jesus falls into the hands of his enemies and is subjected to their will. From that point on Jesus enters into and endures his passion. But for a few more hours Jesus is still able to act upon his own initiative and heart’s desires; to express his love to those who follow him.
Imagine for a moment you are in that upper room. I know this is harder for some than others; if you need help, ask the Lord to illuminate your imagination and to be with you whilst you read on.
Look around that upper room; the bare furnishings, the low table before which the disciples sit or recline. There’s a space between Judas and Andrew and you sit down. The traditional Passover meal is underway. Perhaps the conversation is muted, hesitant, anticipating; but what? As a Jew, what would you think about celebrating the Passover; the tradition, its significance on this particular day.
Then Jesus stands up, removes his outer garments; he wraps a towel around his waist, then fills a bowl with water. You and everyone in the room is watching, wondering, waiting for some explanation. Jesus comes and kneels in front of the disciple next to you. Jesus up close and personal in a way you have not seen before. He proceeds to remove that disciples sandals, and ever so gently, lovingly washes his feet. He murmurs a pray of blessing as he dries those feet.
Jesus turns to you. Kneels before you. Every instinct within you wants to shout, My Lord, my God, this is not right. Perhaps you are still trying to process what has happened, is happening now to you. Maybe you realize, forlornly, this is what you could be doing for Jesus.
Now Jesus removes your sandals. His touch is tender, careful and deliberate. Then he gently sponges your feet, washing off the dust of today’s walk. His hands are strong – after all he was a carpenter. They are firm and yet gentle. You are still transfixed, speechless, by the sight of Jesus kneeling in front of you. Just last week you heard Him speak life into a dead man. These same hands have touched, healed and blessed so many others. Why me, Lord, and now? Perhaps you want to touch, to embrace the One whose over-whelming love is so visible, comforting and enfolding.
Now he dries your feet, taking such care with the towel wrapped around his waist. It feels warmed from the heat of his body. He murmurs a blessing on these feet, your feet, that will, in due time, carry his message of love and hope to some far corner of his Father’s world.
You notice you have almost stopped breathing, in wonderment, as Jesus moves on to the disciple on your other side. Quietly, one by one Jesus washes the feet of every disciple; no one is excluded from this final benediction. When he finished washing the disciples’ feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” Jesus asked them. It‘s the same question he asks each of us, but now through the Cross and Resurrection morn.
Dear ones, ponder these last moments of our Lord. Dare to follow Him to Gethsemane; watch for perhaps an hour, maybe longer during Good Friday or Saturday. Remember and receive once again his great sacrifice, the gift of God’s forgiveness; knowing that it was the pure love of God flowing through our Lord, that enabled him to win the victory over sin and death, once and for all.
And be prepared to celebrate in wonder, in tenderness of heart, on Easter morn. And to claim once again the wonder of the Resurrection.
Good Friday. Remember, during that service, you can pause at any time for reflection, to ponder a particular thought or song (– and you can’t do that in church!)
Everyone can participate in the Prayer Vigil at home. Set a time aside during the day or night and pray. There are resources on the web page. Consider reading on through John’s gospel from the Last Supper passage. Invite the Lord to be with you and prompt your prayers.
For Easter Day we shall do our best to help us all celebrate once again the breaking dawn of Hope and eternal life with our Lord.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:15
(If you were hoping for a closing ‘smile’, listen in Easter morning.)
Rev. Tony Grainger