Maundy, Maundy

If there is any holy day that I like more than Christmas and Easter, today is indeed that day. Today, in many traditions, is known as Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday is a part of the Triduum (the three days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). Maundy comes from the latin word “mandatum” which means “mandate” or “command”. On this day, Jesus gives us a new commandment “Love one another as I have first loved you.”

Maundy Thursday often uses the Last Supper reading from the Gospel of John where Jesus washes the disciples feet. The foot-washing does not appear in any of the other gospels. Maundy Thursday is an important day, in my opinion, because it teaches us how to follow Jesus’ example of being served and serving others. Jesus still washes Judas’ feet even though he knows what is yet to come…that Judas will betray him before his death. Jesus calls all of us with all of our brokenness to come to the table, have our feet washed, and gather as we eat and drink together. Then we are called to go out into the world “to serve and be served.”

My call to Diaconal Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is based specifically on this gospel text from John. Diaconal Ministers are called to pick up their basins and towels and wash the feet of all God’s people. Diaconal Ministry grew out of the Catholic understanding of deacons and deaconesses. On my consecration day, I was presented with a basin and towel to represent my call. It is a daily reminder to me to pick up that basin and towel and reach  far beyond the church walls. I am called to bridge the gap between the church and the world. So now you can see why Maundy Thursday is one of my favorite holy days.

Often, on Maundy Thursday, many congregations have their youth who are going to take their first communion do it on this night because it is the night we celebrate the holy meal in addition to the foot-washing. I am excited that we have 21 youth publicly joining us at the table tonight. What a powerful reminder of how we are all called to be fed and forgiven.

“How beautiful are the voices; How beautiful are the hands; How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good news to the world.”

This Holy Week

Our foreheads were marked with the sign of the cross almost six weeks ago on Ash Wednesday as we began our journey to the cross. With the sign of the cross on our foreheads, the words “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; to dust you came, to dust you shall return” were spoken over us. Every time I mark a person’s forehead, I am reminded of their humanity and their mortality. It is especially hard when I mark the sign of the cross on a child’s forehead. Yet God declares that God will never leave us or forsake us. This Holy Week I am especially mindful of all who have gone before us including dear blogger Kara Tippetts who lost her battle with cancer a few weeks ago.

It is indeed a holy Week; a week in which we remember all Christ has done for us and experience so many emotions. It is a week in which we feel sadness but it also is a week in which we can be so very thankful. It is a week that walks us from the foot-washing of the disciple’s feet and gathering at the table, to the intensity we feel on the night of his crucifixion and death, to the hope that pours out when we come to the tomb and see the stone rolled away. It is a week that reminds us of the holy hopeful promise found in Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection.

But we cannot experience the promise of the Resurrection without first walking from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to that joy-filled Easter morning. Clarence W. Hall once wrote, “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” I find myself clinging to those words this week. There is such hope in knowing that death does not have the final word but that God does.

This Lent I have had the privilege of praying through my Facebook friends list. It is always such an enriching experience to pray for these friends. With their prayers in my heart and knowing how they have experienced their own deaths (death of relationship, death of life, etc), there is hope found in knowing that death does not and WILL NOT have the final word. I am again reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses; Psalm 30: verse five “Weeping may come for the night but joy comes with the morning.”

Tomorrow, on Maundy Thursday, we will gather at the table, with all of our brokenness, where God calls us to come, have our feet washed and eat and drink. Then on Good Friday, we are brought to our knees as Jesus is beaten and crucified. There is a eery stillness that comes over the world that night. But then three days later, we come to the tomb and find that the tomb has been rolled away. And we know that death has not had the last word, but that God does!

God sent God’s son into the world for each and every one of us. God loves us so THAT MUCH! And knowing that love, I find myself thankful for what Christ has done for me…..has done for all of us. But there is also a trembling that comes over me. I am reminded of the chorus to the African American spiritual “Were you There” “Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” And, my friends, this holy week I especially don’t want to forget that trembling; a trembling that is there as my feet are washed; a trembling that is there as I hear Jesus being beaten and crucified; and a trembling that is there when I come to the tomb and find it empty! Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

I am linking up with these wonderful writers today: Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday, 
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory, Holly Gerth for Coffee for your Heart
and Angela Parlin at the #RaRaLinkup.