Maundy Thursday 2021
April 1, 2021
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. (John 13:1-5)
This is enough. If I had no other reason to love Jesus than this one moment, this is enough. This is beauty beyond compare, love beyond speaking.
Jesus gets up from the table, casts off his outer robe, ties a towel around himself and pours water in a bowel. Then he kneels … and washes his disciples’ feet, an act of crystal purity flowing from his heart, giving himself to his friends who could never comprehend the depth of the love who chose … them.
Watch him as he takes a foot in one hand and washes it with the other. These are the hands that held and blessed children. His hands welcomed lepers who had given up hope of ever knowing the grace of human touch again.
He had bent low to lay his hands on the despairing who fell at his feet, daring to hope that maybe the mystery in him could and would heal them.
He had held the hand of a little girl pronounced dead, lifting her by the hand and delivering her into the arms of astonished parents.
And now, in an act of exquisite love for the uncomprehending and undeserving, he washes his disciples’ feet, loving them completely and loving them to the end.
I see his hands and in them I see the hands of my Sunday school teacher, Grant, red and chapped from working outdoors all his life, strong from milking cows, making hay and building fence. His hands welcomed us every Sunday to his class with a strength born of a love none of us could begin to understand at 10 and 11.
I see Magdalena’s hands, arthritic, a network of blue veins across the back, weathered and worn from chores indoors and out, hands that gently cared for her orchids, bringing them to blossom, beautiful, but none so much as her. I remember her hands laying atop mine as she prayed for me and for hundreds of others, struggling for words to express a fraction of what was in her heart that we might be warmed by the enduring flame of love she felt within.
I also see my hands picking up Hana, a little Ethiopian girl, who long ago insistently tugged at my pant leg until I picked her up and sat her in the crook of my arm. She patted my face and kissed my cheeks, aching to touch and be touched with a love denied her because of the disease that ravaged her family and made her an outcast. I held her, praying that she might live and grow and one day hold her own child as I held her.
In their hands, I see Jesus’ hands, and in Jesus’ hands I see their hands.
And in all of them, I see the hands of the Love who pours from Jesus’ heart as he kneels at the feet of his disciples and washes their feet. In the touch of his hands, the gentleness of grace, the beauty of blessing, we know the Love who labors in the depth of human souls and works in the great tides of history to love us into truest humanity and create a community joined in the heart of God’s invincible love for all creation.
So it is: If all we ever know about Jesus is this one moment as he washes feet, this is enough for us, enough to know that wherever we are in life’s journey, whether it be dark or light, we rest in very good hands.
We adore you, O Christ, and bless you.
By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Pr. David L, Miller