Service & Love in Water & Towel

A person posing for the cameraPeople of Hope:

Holy Week is approaching! The first full week of April, we gather on Maundy Thursday at 7 pm, Good Friday at 7 pm, and for Easter Vigil on Saturday at 7 pm before we burst into joyous song and proclaim the good news of Easter.

On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. In first century Palestine, servants performed the grimy task of foot washing. Of course, in a time before cars or even bicycles, people walked everywhere in a desert environment similar to our own—without the modern conveniences of sidewalks and paved roads. Their feet got dirty! On the night of Jesus’ arrest, the disciples gathered to celebrate the Passover, and John’s gospel tells us that, besides sharing what we now call the Last Supper, Jesus was the one to wash the disciples’ feet, not a servant. Or rather, he was the servant to wash the disciples’ feet. Upon washing their feet, Jesus instructed the disciples to love one another as he loved them and to do for others what he had done for them.

This Maundy Thursday, we will not only remember Jesus washing the feet of the disciples; we will wash one another’s feet. You may wash others’ feet even if you do not wish to have your own feet washed.  Similarly, you may have your feet washed without washing others’. I understand this is not part of the tradition here at Esperanza, and you may certainly abstain from participating in foot washing even while participating in the rest of the Maundy Thursday worship. The station for foot washing will be set up at the back of the sanctuary, and people may come back at the appropriate time as others sing together.

Washing another’s feet is an act of service and love, and having your feet washed can feel strange and vulnerable but also beautiful. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter at first protested that it was beneath Jesus’ dignity to do so, but Jesus replied: “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” We have a share in Christ and in one another as members of the body of Christ and specifically of Esperanza Lutheran Church. I hope you will consider participating.

At the conclusion of Maundy Thursday worship, we strip the altar. This year, all who participate in worship will have the opportunity to help strip the altar. One by one, I will remove items from the chancel area and then hand them to the person at the front of the line at the edge of the platform in the sanctuary. Of course, instructions will be shared at that time. I hope you will also consider participating in the stripping of the altar—a way we experientially remember Jesus’ disciples betraying and then abandoning him.

Holy Week throws us into confusion, a God-become-flesh who serves us, a God who enters the deepest of human suffering, a God who stops at nothing to bring new life to us and all creation. This is a God who loves us.

With anticipation,

Pastor Sarah