Well the sun’s out again after that strange bit of snow we saw yesterday – and still not enough to get us out of the drought conditions predicted for this summer ….. already there are hosepipe bans in several parts of England, and my guess is it won’t be far away here too if we don’t see some significant rain in the next month or so.
Today is “Maundy Thursday” the day in Holy week when we remember the Last Supper, the Passover meal – that Jesus shared with his disciples before his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. Johns Gospel describes it like this (John 13.1-11):
” It was almost time for the Jewish Passover festival. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. Jesus had always loved the people in the world who were his. Now was the time he showed them his love the most.
Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot to hand Jesus over to his enemies. (Judas was the son of Simon.) The Father had given Jesus power over everything. Jesus knew this. He also knew that he had come from God. And he knew that he was going back to God. So while they were eating, Jesus stood up and took off his robe. He got a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet. He dried their feet with the towel that was wrapped around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter. But Peter said to him, “Lord, you should not wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “You don’t know what I am doing now. But later you will understand.”
Peter said, “No! You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash your feet, you are not one of my people.”
Simon Peter said, “Lord, after you wash my feet, wash my hands and my head too!”
Jesus said, “After a person has a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet. And you are clean, but not all of you.” Jesus knew who would hand him over to his enemies. That is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
Maundy Thursday is (like much of Easter) filled with its own traditions including the giving of specially minted Maundy money given out by the Queen (or king) – this year this will take place at York minister. One part of the Maundy service that hasn’t happened since James II is that the monarch was also meant to ritually wash the feet of some of their citizens in a reminder of Jesus actions. Really though the message is not just for royalty, nor is it just for today – Jesus message then and now is:
- That we all need to live unselfishly – caring for and serving each other
- How if we stay focussed on Jesus we can stay close to God