April 1st 2010
Maundy Money For Some
A “Mandated Memorandum” For Others!
“…He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher and Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am … I have set you an example … no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one that sent him.”
John 13:5, 12-13, 15-16 (NIV)
You know how a “train of thoughts” can occupy your mind so persistently once it starts? Recent thoughts about the torture my Saviour underwent on my behalf may have this particular “train” back-to-front (crucifixion, trial and then Last Supper), but what came up next took me back mentally to a time nearly 50 years ago when I was a newly ordained minister. At the time in question, during the Easter period, I was attending a church with a large majority of black members. We were voluntarily following our Saviour’s example before His crucifixion and about to take part in a foot-washing ceremony prior to taking the elements at a communion service—a very effective way of bringing humility into the picture! I didn’t know then that God intended, a few years down the line, to use me to serve that same church in various pastoral roles. Well, Jesus certainly knew I had certain vital lessons to learn before any of this could happen. I’m ashamed to say that at that time I was not used to being around people of another colour and felt somewhat uncomfortable in their presence. I was okay with them, but not as OK as I should have been.
All who have participated in a foot-washing ceremony will be familiar with the usual jockeying for position which tends to accompany the line-up on entering the room—you want to be standing next to a relative or good friend, if possible, so that you can perform the intimate task of washing their feet rather than those of a stranger! Not exactly what God had in mind, of course, but we excuse ourselves by saying we’re only human! As I looked around for a friendly face, and couldn’t find one nearby, it suddenly dawned on me that I was on my own for a reason. And, you guessed it, God arranged for me to stand and then sit next to a very, very, old black man with the ugliest, horniest and corniest feet imaginable! The experience of washing his feet certainly helped me to observe the rest of the Festival in a very meaningful manner.
We are now “washed with the water of the Word”, but Our Lord and Teacher humbled Himself in this act of washing His disciples’ feet to teach us all the lesson of showing humility around every one our dear brothers and sisters—no exceptions.
Whilst, of course, this time of year is one of great overall rejoicing for Christians, maybe these musings might help you, too, in your approach to the season of our Lord’s Last Supper, trial and scourging, as well as recognising the passionate love he has for every single one of us—young and beautiful, or old and bearing the physical scars of a long and hard life—the unconditional love that drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice.
Father Almighty, our Saviour Jesus and Holy Spirit, hear our prayers as we ask your forgiveness for the many occasions we are “only human” and fall so far short of your wishes. You show such mercy when we are so undeserving, the Holy Spirit bringing to our consciousness what we need to learn or remember. Help us to change our attitudes and thus be able to truly celebrate the soon-coming memorial of our Saviour’s great sacrifice. In His name,
Study by Stuart Powell