Long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) I lived in a part of Norwalk, Connecticut called Rowayton. I was a member of a really lovely church there that celebrated Maundy Thursday. To this day it is the only church I’ve ever attended that had a service on the Thursday evening before Easter. It was my favorite service of the year.
Most Christians observe Easter (even the Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t celebrate holidays do), and to a somewhat lesser degree Good Friday, but Maundy Thursday? Not so much.
The upper room the night before the crucifixion. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him.
The foot washing. Jesus was there in servitude to his disciples. He new what lay ahead of them.
Foot washing is like a symbolic mini baptism. We may be clean but we’ve been walking out in the world and our feet get dirty. Then the last supper. Jesus knew who would betray him, but allowed Judas to sit with them, pray with them, eat with them.
And after the breaking of bread together – the Garden.
Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. I worked from home which I’ve been doing a lot of lately because of a recent cancer diagnosis. I’ve been having lots of tests and appointments and even had diagnostic laparoscopic surgery last week so I’m still recovering from that. I worked for about five hours from the comfort of my couch and then when Marty got home I told him I was gonna go lay down and nap for a while. This has become my routine for the last couple of weeks. I’m good for a few hours of being upright, and then I have to lay down and recharge for a bit. Instead of my usual hour or two nap I found myself awake again after about twenty minutes, with a single thought in my head – that we needed to go next door to Joe and Lisa’s and talk about Maundy Thursday.
Who are Joe and Lisa? Glad you asked. Joe and Lisa are our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends and members of the Secret Squirrel Society. Lisa handles sales for the property management company and Joe is going to be working in the office as a customer service rep – he has also done work in various other capacities for us over the last couple of years. Joe is an epic Superhero. He has battled every kind of illness imaginable with more grace, humor and dignity than I have ever seen in my life. On Thanksgiving day he became an amputee – one leg, below the knee, gone. On Superbowl Sunday he became a double amputee. For a football fanatic like him this was especially devastating. The only saving grace is that he is a Cowboys fan, so he didn’t have a horse in the Superbowl race. Still… He is my personal hero. Marty built a ramp at their place and helped reconstruct the bathroom for his new circumstances. This is what our community is about – loving our neighbors. When there is a need in the community, the rest of us rally. Lisa once expressed to me that she didn’t want to be that friend, the one who always needs something. I told her the truth – that this was just their turn. And sure enough, now it’s my turn.
I think what spoke to me most on Maundy Thursday this year was Jesus’ prayer in the garden, “If it is possible, take this cup from me. But your will, not my will be done.”
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew he was going to die, and in a terrible way. He also knew that The Plan of Salvation was in place, and that his sacrifice was not going to be in vain. Right now Joe and I have cups in our hands that we’d rather have taken from us. But we also can have faith and trust that what we’re going through is not in vain. God can use this. We’re just asking Him to light the path for us so we know which way to go.