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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday: Wash, Pray, Love

Out of ashes 
- an invitation to a holy season -
From which we have journeyed 
over  rough and rugged terrain.
It always is. 
rugged. rocky. 

Because life is.
At least life can be. And yet, through the rocky places
Jesus walks with us, God is present, love come down, 
and we journey through.

So here we are. The Holiest of Weeks
and now, an invitation to sit.
To wash feet and be washed
to remember that Jesus did too.

But first, before Jesus washed feet
Mary of Bethany washed Jesus' feet.
She burst into a room full of men eating dinner
and plunged herself to the floor, embracing Jesus' foot
in her hands. She anointed the gnarled toes. 
She gently smoothed the  calloused heels 
and massaged the aching arches.
She held his feet in her hands, 
and rubbed them with an ointment
so fragrant that the residue must have lingered for days.
On his feet. On her hands. 

And so, when he washed the feet of his disciples,
wafts of Mary's fragrant ointment, her symbol of love
would waft through the water, the movement
of hands and towels
and remind them all that Mary
understood then
what they all were just beginning to grasp.

The love of God in Jesus is deep. It is a love
that heals all wounds, a love that does not require suffering 
of anyone. No, this love reaches into the suffering places
and seeks to anoint the wounded with a balm of heavenly grace.

There is tragedy ahead. Jesus knows it. Mary knew it. 
The disciples will see it and run away.
Jesus will face into the violence and the women
will walk with him, all the way. 
They hold his eyes in theirs and love him through his pain.
But that comes later.

Now, for now, Jesus is washing feet
and then sharing a meal,
and talking about 

I think I am going to reflect on Mary of Bethany tonight and how her fragrant love permeates the love that Jesus shows to his disciples when he washes their feet. How the fragrance must have lingered for days, the essence of which reminding Jesus of the tenderness of love, the bravery of love, the strength of love, the power of love. 

No doubt that love gave him strength. No doubt God's love in Jesus gives us strength too. 

What are your thoughts for this Holy Week? For this Maundy Thursday? Are you going to have supper? Are you going to wash and be washed? Are you going to sit and pray at an all night vigil?

 Not exactly a preacher party, but a time for us to share ideas, pray, and be present through this day.


  1. I'm cogitating the fact that Jesus washed Judas's feet and he shared in the Last Supper. Not sure where that will lead me yet . . . Something about us never being unworthy and Christ being ready to receive us always? This set in a context of our Sunday School superintendent defrauding the church of a great deal of money and showing no remorse . . . the theme of betrayal is strong in my mind this week.

    1. Pat, that is awful for you and the congregation. blessings as you work through this.

    2. wow,Pat - you have a powerful context for reflecting on this. I do think it could be interessting to ponder this night, this foot washing and meal, through the eyes of Judas. I also think it could be interesting to look at through Peter's perspective. I am going speak of through the eyes of Mary of Bethany.

      You are in my prayers.

    3. Thanks to you both. It is a very difficult situation and guilty people try so hard to project their guilt onto others and I am having to protect the innocent in this regard. I have before spoken through the eyes of Judas but, as I spoke about betrayal last night I don't think I will do it that way. I am rather looking at how none of us are clean and how Christ cleanses us all if we turn to him.

    4. Oh, Pat, I'm so sorry. Judas, indeed. And Terri, I love your Mary monologue - just beautiful.

    5. I ended up with a homily about the Mandatum..the Maundy in this Thursday...the mandate, the command, to love. Mandate is not only about command, it is about permission. We neither need nor want another command in our lives but the permission to love the unlovable offers us a moment of grace, relief from judgement of another and suspension of the fear that we didn't quite live up to the entire command...permission allows us to love even as we grieve, even as we suffer. Maybe in this idea there is a kernel that will open some healing and restore, through a new vision, a path to healthier relationships. Permission, to me, says, baby steps, not the whole ball of wax. Love in little ways, even as you are in pain; receive love in small gestures, even as you want to rebuke and your neighbor, as a disciple of the one who Loved through all of that himself. (sorry if that got a bit preachy...)

      God be with you, strengthening your heart as you rage and and your congregation are in my prayers.

    6. sounds like a very effective way into the heart of Maundy THursday.

  2. What a stunning poem, Terri. That fragrance...

    1. Thank you, Wendy. I have been immersed in Mary of Bethany images as I prepare to offer a homily from her perspective at the service tonight. This did just pour out of me last night.

  3. home from Thursday evening service, and making the final touches to Friday, then finalise the PowerPoint. the person who normally looks after the preparation of the PPT in on holidays for 3 weeks.
    no preaching on Thursday or Friday, just some reflections that I have gathered from various places.
    in rereading the Luke passage for Friday, I am struck by the final sentence. 'They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.'
    In the midst of grief and confusion, and whatever else, they rested because it was the sabbath.

    1. Indeed Pealr, and I wonder. How well did they acturally rest, lost in grief as they must have been - and fear too? Whenever I am in deep grief and fear and in real need of rest I find that state to be illusive....and yet, they were commanded to rest. Interesting points to ponder, thank you for lifting this up!

  4. beautiful poem. my continuing depression and anxiety means I won't get to the service this evening but God is providing me with sources of ministry (like yours) and keeping me praying and writing.

    1. Praying for you, Emma, may you find peace.

    2. Prayers for you, Emma, that new life will begin to emerge in your difficulties and that you will know God's presence with you even in these difficult days.

  5. Here is the text from my reflection for tonight Wash, Pray, Love.

  6. Potluck tonight, then communion, then Garden of Gethsemane play. I am so worn down on so many levels. I am grateful that I have elderly folks to whom to take communion, although one of them wants me to preach like Charles Stanley. The organist drama continues. The church -- "Here comes everyone."

    1. Robin, so sorry the hassle continues. And, that you are so worn and tired. I have been there....praying for you.

  7. Potluck tonight as well followed by footwashing and communion. I am punting on the home communions until next week. Day 11 of being "under-the-weather" with upper respiratory syndrome.

    Thankfully, tomorrow we worship with the Methodists...normally we share the leadership and I have not heard anything from the pastor...and I am going to roll with it.

    1. Sounds like a plan to me, Purple. Hope you feel better soon. GOodness!

  8. Sounds like many folk are having a rough week--for a variety of reasons. Thankfully we've nothing out of the ordinary here (just "normal" stressors). Otherwise, "just" foot washing and stripping the altar tonight and my sermon is done for Maundy Thursday (don't talk to me about Easter day!).
    reverend or just click on my name...

    1. YAY Joy, I hope the night went well.

  9. Happiness is discovering you have a Maundy Thursday sermon you forgot all about - A Night to Remember - and I've never preached it to this congregation! I didn't even have to revise it - my joy is complete!

    Because as this day progresses, I'm discovering yet another detail that I don't have handled for tonight's service, or the newsletter, or Sunday... Funny plenty of time turns into crunch time!

    Although, I'm tempted to take Terri's beautiful reflection and read it in place of a sermon. Thank you Terri - it was much needed food for my hungering soul!

    1. Ramona, I soooo hear you - that happens to me too - thinking I have time and then I remember 85 more things I have to do, which I had otherwise forgotten all about. sigh.

  10. For these moments:

    I have a lot of people unhappy with me these days. But I've just returned from sharing communion with an 81yo man, homebound and in constant pain. A staunch and steadfast leader in the UMC all his adult life until these past few years.

    I asked him whether he had considered that in these upcoming 24 hours, Jesus shares in his suffering with him, and he shares his in companionship with Jesus.

    Never occurred to him.

    I suppose that there are these moments when I think I am here for a reason.

    Robin (posting elsewhere and not wanting to sign in)

    1. What a grace-filled moment for both of you. TBTG for your ministry and for that small moment of ministry confirmation.

      I thinking of Jesus in the upper room with "a lot of people unhappy" with him, even one who was at the table with him. Amazed and humbled that we are not alone, even in that loneliness and pain.

      It's been a bit of a challenging day around here, too, so these things are on my mind as the Maundy Thursday festivities are about to begin.

      Pausing to pray for you all before I head upstairs . . .

    2. Robin, sometimes you just have to take the little graces where they come.

  11. I have just decided to do a sort of guided-meditation before the foot washing this evening, rather than a traditional homily or the traditional explanation.

    Mainly, I decided that because that's what wrote itself on the screen.

    On to the communion prayers...

    1. Sounds like a guided meditation is what the Holy Spirit is calling forth from you - fabulous!

  12. Today is a public holiday in Australia, and most shops etc are closed. Easter is a 4 day weekend, so lots of people go away for the weekend.

    Friday morning service over, now to visit a person who moved into a nursing home this week - and is not happy about it. The family are hoping a visit from me will help.

    then start putting the service for Sunday together. and maybe a nap this afternoon. I am sure a nap isn't a traditional spiritual discipline for Good Friday, but I am a sleepy disciple.

    blessings to those still preparing as you lead

    1. Pearl, we have Spring break here, many families gone for the week and weekend. Good for them, hard for the church. I hope your nap was refreshing.


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