Friday, March 29, 2013

Maundy Thursday

Our church had a very moving Maundy Thursday service. I didn't know what to expect...I've heard there can be footwashing ceremonies at those. Like, I know, Jesus washed his disciples feet at the last Supper, but honestly, I'm not looking for a footwashing experience. I mean, culturally that just isn't a thing these days. Back then your feet got dirty, they needed washed -- it's more akin to taking off shoes at the door, if you ask me. And most of us have perfectly clean socks under our shoes, so... no need of footwashing. I guess the point is to have a humbling experience by letting someone else wash your feet. I don't know about humbling, it seems more like embarrassing to me. And those really are two different things. No worries, I was assured ahead of time there wouldn't be any footwashing. But there would be "stripping of the altar". Hmmmm, another mystery.

At the end of a very worshipful church service complete with communion, the choir sang a dramatic rendition of Psalm 22 -- My God, My God... While they sang lights were gradually turned off, all but the lighting up front. Then in complete silence teens, one by one, entered the stage area and took everything, one item at a time, off the altar and the podium. As each object was removed another bit of light was extinguished until we sat in darkness. Except for the backlit picture of Jesus praying in Gethsemane the sanctuary was dark. Finally, a wooden cross carried down the middle isle was placed at the front. We sat quietly in the dark. I contemplated that old rugged cross, a replica of the one my Savior died on to pay the penalty for my sin, on a hill far away and a long time ago. I thought on that until it was time to leave. We were invited  go in peace, and asked to go in silence.

Maundy Thursday, Good much suffering and sadness, a somber time. Yes, but -- Sunday's coming!  

I didn't know the meaning of the word "maundy" and found this on Living Lutheran website.

“Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum;” it is from a verb that means “to give” or “to order” — command. After Jesus and the disciples finished the Last Supper and walked toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught them a new commandment — “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Kind of an appropriate scripture this week, not only in preparing for Easter, but also in light of the issue of marriage equality before the Supreme Court. Not a lot of love going on between Christians and gay people, many of whom are also Christians. But Jesus said to love one another. No. Actually, He commanded us to love one another. Just as he loved us.

Easy enough to say, hard to do, and harder still to show. But the proof is in our actions. It's looking for and acknowledging the good in people. It's affirming other people's worth and seeing that their needs are met. It's doing unto others as you want them to do to you. All religious arguments aside, it's wanting others to be treated fairly. And that's why I'm in favor of marriage equality. I'm not selling out my faith, the Bible, or God's laws. If you think I am we could have a conversation about that sometime. But...

There are some things in the Bible that are difficult to understand yet some commands are absolutely clear. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Add this Maundy Thursday verse from John 13:34, the last commandment he gave his disciples " one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." That's clear. It's the filter through which all of our actions must pass. If we get that right the rest will fall into place.
By this shall all men know that you are mine...
if you have love for one another all the time.

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