I just returned from our church family observance of Maundy Thursday in the narthex. Traditionally, it’s not a big day on the non-liturgical calendar, but it is a favorite of mine. To gather at the church at an odd hour on an odd day is to remind ourselves that something different is in the air. Something significant. Something history-making and life changing.
On our Lord’s last night before the events of Good Friday, he chose to share a meal with those closest to him. He chose two symbolic acts to define his life and ministry and to serve as an example for ours. He took the elements of the meal, bread and wine, and used them as a holy metaphor for the impending atonement. And he took a towel and washed the feet of those who followed him. As he did, they likely heard the echoes of the Galilean stranger: “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.”
So we gathered together, literally at the foot of the cross. We had four stations for the washing of hands; a milder, more pragmatic practice, but touching nonetheless. Phil, Karl, Randy, Amy, Chris, and Bob joined me beside the basins, and our folks graciously allowed us to wash and dry hands. It was special to us to enact the Lord’s lesson with the people we love and long to serve.
Then we shared communion in small groups together. It allowed me and the other ministers a chance to personally interact with our folks as we pondered the unimaginable act of love, all in the shadow of our imposing crucifix. I got to speak of the love we share with each other, and the act of love that made it possible.
We Christians tend to rush to Easter. And with good reason, it is the most wonderful celebration of the year and frankly, I can’t wait for Sunday. But it means more when we camp out in the days before, remembering how Thursday gives way to Friday and the airs of disappointment and defeat. Up from the grave he arose feels different when we remember the somber sentiments of the days before – for them then and us now. It’s worth thinking about that as we wait expectantly for the victory assured to come. But not yet. Just not yet.