Reflection: Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020

It’s a Matter of Perspective – Maundy Thursday 2020

This is a Holy Week unlike any I can remember.
For many reasons Maundy Thursday is one of my favourite liturgies in the Church. It is an opportunity when I am reminded of who I am – your servant. In the BAS the
statement is ;
The reading today is from John’s Gospel where Jesus has finished a meal with his friends, nothing extraordinary here. Then he takes off his outer robe and wraps a towel around his waist. He then gets a bowl of water and kneels at the feet of each of his disciples. We tend to make this sound very romantic. For some people feet are gross. And that’s okay.

For me, feet are beautiful. As you know I am barefoot in Church and have been
for about 20 years now. In Jesus day, if a family had money, they would have a servant whose job it was to wash the feet of the guests who arrived. Everyone kept their sandals on as most everyone had a dirt floor in their home. If the family didn’t have a lot of money one of the children would have this job. It was not glamorous. It was dirty, filthy work. You know how when you go to the beach and you’re getting ready to come home, you go dip your feet back in the water, then dry them as best you can. Dry sand sticks to everything, whether your skin is wet or dry. And brush it as best as you can with your hands, you still end up with sand in your car. That stuff gets everywhere.

In Jesus day, if the family didn’t have children at home and didn’t have a lot of money, they would leave a large bowl, filled with water, outside the house. Visitors would dip their sandal shod foot into the bowl, swish it around and they would be “clean”. Ick. So, Jesus, clad in his undergarments and a towel kneels down and washes the feet of his disciples. They are stunned and likely uncomfortable. And then there’s Peter. Bless his cotton socks.
Jesus – I have to wash your feet.
Peter – NO! You can’t wash my feet. It isn’t right!
Jesus – Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet, you can’t enter the kingdom.
Peter – Um, okay, can you wash my face and hands as well?
Jesus (facepalm) – Peter, you’re already clean. We’re talking about Spiritual cleanliness, not hygiene.
I imagine Jesus spent a lot of time with his palm against his head in dealing with his
disciples, certainly with Peter.

On an “ordinary” Maundy Thursday we would gather at night. I would wash your feet, pray for you, dry your feet, kiss them and hug you. This is not an ordinary Maundy Thursday. This is not an ordinary Holy Week.

So, today, I asked you to have a bowl of hot water, soap and a towel.
We washed our hands while being able to see each other. Not the same as having our
feet washed, yet capturing the intention of washing together.
How did it feel to have that bar of soap in your hand?
Did it evoke any memories of childhood or of previous Maundy Thursday gatherings?

One of the things it reminded me of is the myriad of First Nations reserves who don’t
have access to clean water. How are they staying safe at this time?
How many grew up without access to hot and cold running water?
How many grew up where water was scarce?

We must continue to pray for all those who are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. From the medical workers to the store clerks, truck drivers, drive thru workers, etc.  They are risking their lives that we may stay safe.

When I was washing my hands and feeling the warm water, the feel of the soap in my hands and being completely in the moment, it felt, like a spa day. The luxury of warm water and handmade hemp soap. The luxurious lather of the soap. Being in the moment and not just counting to twenty.

After the foot washing we would then move to celebrate the Eucharist. I have decided after a great deal of prayer, sleepless nights and worry, to not celebrate the Eucharist in a Virtual Setting. About 1/3 of our Parish does not have access to technology. About 1/3 of our Parish has access to technology and chooses not to use it. About 1/3 of our Parish has access to technology and is using it. It’s not a level playing field. And so, until we are able to gather again in person, we will not share in Holy Communion. I know this is difficult. I know this is a tremendous loss for us. Yet I feel it is the only just and appropriate thing to do.

If you wish to partake in Virtual Communion there are Churches who will be doing this and I will send links to ensure you can connect if you wish to. No judgment, just options and choices.

In closing, I’d like to share this prayer from Iona. I use it at every Maundy Thursday
service. I used it this morning with the faithful who were able to join us by Zoom.
Let us pray.

In gratitude for this moment, these people gathered here together we give ourselves to you. Take us out to live as changed people because we have shared this experience and cannot remain the same. Ask much of us, expect much from us, enable much by us, encourage many through us. So, Lord, may we live to your glory, both as inhabitants of earth and citizens of the commonwealth of heaven. AMEN

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