Category: Member Posts

The Good Shepherd: Hearing His Voice ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

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Reading 1: Acts 4:8-12.

R Psalm: PS 118: 1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29.

Reading 2: 1 JN 3: 1-2.

Gospel: JN 10: 11-18.

Our Lord tells us very clearly that his sheep hear his Voice. He knows them all and they follow him. He also tells us that not one of us can ever be snatched from His hand. The only way we shall leave his hand is if we deliberately turn away and choose to leave it. If we go astray, Our Shepherd will always come looking for us to return us safely to his fold. However, the Lord will never force us to return, he respects our freedom to choose, although he loves us so much.

It is essential as children of God to often ask ourselves if we indeed are truly hearing the voice of Our Lord and are truly following him. In today’s world, it is all too easy to get distracted, or to say we are truly listening to him by making excuses such as, “I attend church”, or ” I don’t  commit the bad sins of others”, but to truly  listen and follow takes far more than this. If we don’t listen to him constantly in our hearts and lives, and only listen to his voice either out of habit or routine, or only listen when we choose to do so, then we are not truly listening to his voice at all.

It is vital that if we are truly listening, that we have him as first in our lives. It is far too easy to get into a pattern of attending church, hearing the scriptures, and praying as a habitual routine, rather than truly taking the time to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us.

When was the last time you opened and read the bible on your own accord? The Bible is full of love letters from God for us, and if we are truly listening to his voice, it tells us all we need to know. I don’t mean reading the bible out of habit, but to truly take the time to listen and to hear what the Lord, our Shepherd, is telling us.

Today, I wish to issue a challenge in the name of the Lord, that we ask ourselves honestly how hard we actually try to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. We are called to listen, to follow, and to serve him, not out of habit or ritual, but because he is our true Shepherd, our Lord who loves us and who gives salvation to all who truly listen and follow him.

 

Let us pray:

Good Shepherd of the flock, you tend and feed and protect your chosen people and only ask us to listen and to put our trust in your loving care. As host, you welcome us to your table and anoint us with your Holy Spirit. Let us be ever thankful for your blessings O Shepherd and Saviour, and to always truly hear and follow your voice.

Amen.

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I Told You So! ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael R. Beckett, OPI

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Do you remember when we were kids and our parents would tell us to not do that thing because if we did, we would cause all manner of problems AND get into trouble?  And because we were us, we went right ahead and did that thing and we caused all manner of problems and got into trouble.  And our parents said, “I told you so.”

And, poor Scott.  Sometimes I feel so bad for him.  He has it rough.  You see, he lives with me.  And one of my very, very, very favorite things to say to him is, “I told you so.”  (Scott is much smarter and a heckuva lot wiser than I am, but do you think I’d let HIM know that?  Uh unh.  I ain’t doin’ it.)

And of course, there are those (infrequent, oh so very infrequent!) times Scott gets to say to me, “I told you so.”  (I hate that.)

So why do we not listen?  Why do we not accept what we are told?  Why must we, in our (self-centeredness) have to learn the hard way that what God says, He means?  Or do we ever learn?  As many of you know, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are two of my very favorite verses of Scripture.  Both of them give us assurance that God has things well in hand and that we really don’t need to worry about things.  And God has proved himself over and over and over and over ad infinitum in my life.  He has cared for me when I had nothing else.  He has shown Himself faithful and true and proved to me that I have no need to worry.  So WHY do I worry?  Why can I not get it through my head that I have no need to worry, I have no need to doubt?  I would dare say that many of you have had similar experiences.

Whatever the answer to that question is, we are in good company.    Over and over and over again, throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures both, we continually hear God tell us, “Have I not told you…  I told you….”  In the Gospel reading for today, when Cleopas and another disciple are on their way to Emmaus, Jesus appears to them and teaches them and says to them (are you ready) “I told you so.”  (Well, actually, according the NIV  He said, “ “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Luke 24:25)  They recognized Jesus and he disappeared and then they hightailed it back to Jerusalem, straight to the disciples.  And as they were telling the disciples what had happened, Jesus appeared to them all. They were, of course, amazed, frightened, excited!!!!!  And what did Jesus say?  He said, “I told you so.”  (NIV:  “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”Luke 24:44)  Now, these weren’t your every day, run of the mill, ordinary disciples.  These were THE DISCIPLES;  hand picked by Jesus, his closest companions.  They who had witnessed miracles first hand.  And they had trouble getting with the program and believing.  But ya know, Jesus then gave them yet another chance, kinda started from the beginning again, and did a reteach.  (NIV:  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:45-48)

How awesome is that?  Even after all the things the disciples had seen, had witnessed, had had first- hand experience with, Jesus taught them yet again.  And so it is with us.  When we truly desire to increase our faith, when we truly seek another chance to learn the lessons that Christ teaches us, He will always, always give us another chance to try again.  It is up to us to continually open ourselves to learning those lessons.  The hymnist, Clara H. Scott certainly had the words right when she wrote in 1895:

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mind, that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my mind, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

It is my hope and prayer that each of us open ourselves to learn the lessons that God teaches us, and that we do our utmost to learn, and to live those lessons.  Amen.

 

 

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Let It Be: The Feast of The Annunciation~ Fr. Shawn Gisewhite, Novice

Then the angel left her.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a common question. It was probably asked of us in our younger years. We ask it of our children and grandchildren. It is not, however, a question limited to a particular age. It may be common, but it is not necessarily simple. Some of us are still trying to answer that question.

At age 33 I am a Priest, I work in retail, my wife and I are in the process of starting a Café and, Lord willing, Law School is in my future.  “So what do I want to be when I grow up?” I often ask myself with tongue in cheek.  Over the years I have worked in Mental Health, various management positions, as a Paralegal and even as a Hypnotherapist.

Some of my friends wanted to become famous singers (some sadly lacked to ability to sing), dancers or movie stars.  At one level these are silly fantasies. At another level they point to the assumption that we are responsible for creating the life we want.

 

Look at your relationships, friendships, your family and marriage, your jobs and careers, your education, your home. All of those are attempts to create your life. That is not necessarily wrong. We have decisions to make and opportunities before us. The difficulty comes when we start to believe and carry the burden that we are the ultimate creator of our life. Seems that is what happened to King David when he decided that God needed a big fine cedar house like his. David was convinced that he was the one to build a house for God. Until God said, “No.” God reminded David that God is the builder and creator of life. It has been that way from the beginning.

 

For in the beginning, God spoke and POOF there it was. God said let there be light and there was, let there be sky, dry land, earth that brings forth vegetation, fish that fill the waters, a sun and a moon. Let us create humankind in our image and likeness. God said let there be all these things and there was. Creation is the larger context for today’s gospel, the Annunciation to Mary.

 

God speaks the creative word. Today, however, we remember Mary’s words, “Let it be.” “Let it be with me according to your word.” Mary’s words, “Let it be,” echo God’s words, “Let THERE be.” It is like an ongoing call and response between God and humanity. God prays creation into existence and Mary says, “Amen. Let it be.” This is not an ending to the creation story but the continuation of creation and the beginning of our salvation. Think about this. God says, “Let there be” and his words bring forth creatures into the world. Mary says, “Let it be” and her words will bring forth the Creator into the world. How amazing is that?

 

Jesus is able to take flesh because Mary’s humanity gives him that possibility. This could only happen with Mary’s “Let it be.” Her gift to God is her humanity and through her, our humanity. The incarnation of God in Jesus is not, however, limited to Mary. It is an affirmation of God’s creation and the goodness of humanity. God chooses human flesh, not a cedar house, as the place of God’s dwelling. Each one of us can stand as the “favored one,” the one with whom God is. Each of us is called to grow up to be God-bearers, to carry the life of God within our own humanity.

 

Mary is a part of us. She is that part of us that is womb-like, the part that gives birth to Christ in our world. To reject Mary is to say no to God. To reject Mary is to reject the holy of holies within us. To reject Mary is to end the ongoing story of creation and salvation. To love and venerate Mary, however, is to discover the life God is creating in us and who are to be when we grow up. Mary teaches us how to say, “Yes.”

 

Each one of us is to echo Mary’s words, “Let it be.” Don’t hear this as passivity. This is not a “que sera, sera” attitude. It means we must be vulnerable, open, receptive. It means that we must let down the veils that we think separate us. Mary sees her virginity as a veil of separation. “How can this be since I am a virgin?” Not only that, but Mary is weaving a new veil for the temple.

 

Sacred tradition says that Mary was one of the virgins chosen to weave a new veil for the temple. The veil was the curtain that separated humanity from the holy of holies, the place that God lived. Neither the temple veil nor Mary’s virginity, however, can separate God from humanity. As the Archangel Gabriel declares, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

 

We all live with veils that we think separate us from God. There are veils of fear, shame, and guilt. Independence and individualism become veils of isolation. Sometimes we are veiled in logic, rationalism, and unable or unwilling to abandon ourselves to the mystery. Often our veils are the life we have created for ourselves.

 

God looks through our veils to see the “favored one” even when we cannot see ourselves that way. God’s words of possibility speak across our veils announcing that God is with us and that we will conceive within us God’s own life. God is always stepping through our veils to choose us as God’s dwelling place.

 

“How can this be?” With those words Mary acknowledges that the life Gabriel announces is not the life she was creating for herself. “Let it be.” With those words, Mary receives the life God is creating in her. Between “How can this be?” and “Let it be” the impossible becomes a reality, the never-before heard of… will forever be spoken of, and the veil between divinity and humanity has fallen.

 

Offer whatever excuses, reasons, and veils you have why this cannot be true for you. The Angel Gabriel will tell you differently. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
Amen.

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Believing Is…..Well, Believing! ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

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This Sunday, in my mind, is the culmination of all the questions, doubts, hope, and rejoicing that is present in our time as Christians. And as non-Christians, since the readings are available, and speak to all.

A group of people so united, so moved, and so committed that they freely give up their possessions to take care of those less fortunate than they are. A utopian society whose purpose is spreading the Good News about Jesus the Messiah to all who will listen.

And then we have Thomas, the Doubter. But I’ve always wondered how many of the disciples present at Jesus’ first appearance were true believers. What would have been the tally if a vote had been taken? Is Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah? My guess is that only a few would have said “Yes” definitively.

And yet Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Does this mean that Thomas is not blessed? Is Thomas “less than” because he needed physical proof? And what of the other disciples? What was their ranking in the order of believers?

Or is there such a thing? Is Jesus really calling out some as “blessed” and others not because of their blind faith?

Perhaps today’s readings give us the answer we seek. In fact, isn’t that what the Second Reading of John does for us?

“Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Here there is no standard by which belief can be evaluated. One either believes or one doesn’t. And if one believes, she is the victor over the world.

Simple.

Simple?

For two-thousand years people have struggled over this concept. Some have surrendered all their possessions as a token of their belief. Some have forsworn marital companionship. Some have given their lives. And many have simply believed, in their hearts, in their souls.

“My task is easy and my burden is light.” But nowhere have I seen it written that finding that belief, that task and burden, would be easy. Except maybe in the Responsorial Psalm for today:

“I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.”

…and

“This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

I remember, years ago when I was struggling with my own faith, I was talking to my mother about this topic. She told me that when she was young, probably about the age I was at the time, that she made a decision. The concept of faith was a topic of conversation in her family because her older sister, my Aunt Mary, could never reconcile her belief. She was always struggling, my mother said. And while she watched Aunt Mary struggle, she perceived a deep sadness and unease. Yes, on one level it was an exciting intellectual exercise they all used to have, but for my mother, it was troubling. “I just decided that I was going to believe,” she told me. “I saw my sister going through such agonies that I decided I wanted no part of that. I was going to believe and that was that.”

That was that.

She retained that faith all through her life. That was the one spiritual thing she prayed for, for her four children: that we would have faith. She didn’t care if we were Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, Hindus, whatever…she just wanted us to have faith. For her, it was easy. And a blessing, and a joy.

I have not known another person so comfortable in her spiritual life. No one comes close to her peace in my experience.

This is not to say that she was supremely content, just that when it came to believing that she was saved and that Jesus was the Messiah there was no argument. In fact, she used to have bookmarks made up to pass out to all whom she met that said, “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I, together, can’t handle.”

This little prayer incapsulates all that she needed. And all that everyone needs. We only have to remember that God is on our side. Remember. This means acceptance at some point. And such was her faith that she knew that eventually everyone, including her children, would come to believe.

The message of the last sentence of today’s Gospel:

“But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”

I’m with you, Thomas: before and after your enlightenment.

Lord, help us all to remember that nothing is going to happen to us today that you and we, all together, can’t handle.

Amen.

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Proclaim the Cross? Nah….. ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael R. Beckett, OPI

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Scott and I both wear a crucifix around our necks to proclaim our faith, as do many of our Catholic brothers and sisters.  Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters wear a cross.  Churches throughout the world are marked by a cross.  When we pray, we “cross” ourselves.  The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity.  What’s up with that?

Crucifixion was, at one time, one of the most common methods of capital punishment used.  Lots and lots and lots of unfortunate men and women were crucified. We believe that Jesus was totally innocent of the crimes for which he was executed.  Of course, there are many men and women who have been executed for crimes which they did not commit.   Some view Jesus’ crucifixion as an honorable sacrifice made by gifted teacher. Others would point to the cross as a failure of Jesus to demonstrate His power. Like the thief who mocked Jesus saying, “If you are the Messiah then get us down from here,” critics view the cross as an insignificant death. They see Jesus as one of many who rebelled against the Roman Empire and suffered the consequences.

So what makes Jesus crucifixion so different?  Why does a world religion focus so much on the cross?  Is it that important?  Volumes and volumes of books have been written on that subject.  Wars have been fought over the cross.  The hymnist wrote: “In the cross of Christ I glory,” and we, as Christians, are called to proclaim the cross, right???

Ummm….not so much.

Proclaiming the cross means nothing……(Yes, I can hear you gasp and I can see your blood pressure rising.  Let me finish the sentence.)…..without proclaiming the resurrection.

Many contemporary Christians assume the cross has always been the focal point of Christian faith. They view the cross as the touchdown and the resurrection as the extra point. Certainly, the cross is vital to our faith, for it was the means through which Jesus atoned for our sins. But listen to Paul’s words: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith . . . if Christ has not been raised then you are still in you sins” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17).  If Christ had not been raised, then he would have been no better than Dismas (the “good” thief) or anyone else who has ever been executed.

On Easter we turn our attention to the resurrection. While every Sunday worship service is a testimony that Jesus rose from the dead, Easter provides a wonderful opportunity to consider the significance of the resurrection to our faith. An interesting aspect of early Christian history is that the resurrection, not the cross, was the central theme of Christian preaching.

The early believers saw themselves as “witnesses to the resurrection” (Acts 1:15-16). Peter and John created an uproar because they were preaching about Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 4:1-2). The Bible says with great power the apostles testified to the resurrection (Acts 4:33). Several years after the crucifixion while preaching in Athens, Paul preached the “good news about Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18).

The resurrection proclaims the deity of Christ. His death on the cross may have accomplished our redemption as He paid for the sins of the world, but it did not prove to the world that Christ was God in the flesh.  Saint Paul declared that the resurrection proved that Jesus was the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). In this text of First Corinthians 15, we read that Christ conquers all enemies and destroys all dominion, and hands the kingdom over to God the Father (vv. 24-27). Everything is under the authority of Christ because of the resurrection.

But the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive. He is the Holy Son of God who is worthy to receive glory, honor, and praise!  Jesus died for your sins and rose again to prove His sacrifice was not in vain. He is alive to declare to you and to the world that you are a unique creation of God with significant role to play in His kingdom. You are one of those precious souls who are too many to name, but considered to be the fruit or blessing of the resurrection.  The resurrection is an invitation to receive what Christ has prepared for you. His offer of eternal life is a gift that must be received. What have you done with your invitation? Jesus is alive and calling for you to receive Him today. Will you be made alive to spend eternity with the risen Savior?

Will you proclaim the cross?  Sure.  But let us even more loudly proclaim the resurrection.  Let all that we do, all that we say, proclaim that JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

Amen

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The Old Rugged Cross ~ Fr. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

“The Old Rugged Cross” is the title of a well-known song written by George Bennard more than a century ago (1912). Afterwards, various famous artistes, including Jim Reeves and Elvis Presley re-echoed it. The lyrics are a resource for reflection on an important event such as ‘Good Friday.’ In the midst of economic hardship, physical suffering, spiritual persecution, excruciating pain, deep sorrows and ever-mounting troubles, the cross becomes a symbol of hope. Bennard translated his profound reflection about life and the glory of the cross into music. He sings:
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.”

The Cross is the principal symbol of Christianity and this is so because it reminds the world of the sacrificial love of Christ which he expressed to humankind through his passion and death. “As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ,” says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 1:23). In addition, the Apostle says, “the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for those who are being saved it is God’s power” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Paul addressed this message to the Jews who see the cross as a burden for criminals and suffering as punishment for sinners (Deuteronomy 21:20-23). Therefore, they think it is out of place to believe in someone who is crucified. On the other hand, the Greeks who were renowned thinkers and philosophers of the time saw the cross as a sign of foolishness. In all their knowledge they could not understand how God uses ‘foolish things’ to express his greatness.

St Theodore the Studite, one of the early Monks of the eastern church (Constantinople, presently Istanbul), sees a trace of the cross in the following Biblical events of the Old Testament: First, on the pile of wood on which Abraham placed his Son Isaac; second, on the wood of the ark in which Noah, his family and all animal species were saved. Furthermore, he sees the foreshadowing of the cross in the wooden staff of Moses, which changed water into blood, devoured the false snakes of the magician and divided the red sea for the salvation of the Israelites. Again, he sees an allusion of the cross in the staff of Aaron that blossomed on a single day and showed him to be the true priest.

The cross has a message for all believers today as it gives meaning to the trials and troubles in the world, and for standing as a symbol of love as well as a symbol of victory. The second chapter of the book of Sirach admonishes those who wish to serve the Lord to be prepared for temptations (2:1). Trials are an inevitable path towards the attainment of salvation and victory. Jesus emphasized this fact clearly to his followers when he says, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

The cross brings to memory the sacrificial love of the one who hangs there. It is a clear proof of his love, that he laid down his life for us, and challenges us to do the same for our brothers and sisters (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). The early Church Fathers interpret the four points of the cross as symbols of the love of Christ. According to them, the vertical points signify the height and depth of his love, the horizontal points expressing the width and breadth of that love. Their interpretation is closely connected to Paul’s words that prayed for the Ephesians to have the strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of his love (3:18).

The message of the cross is indeed a paradox because it seems to contradict itself, but in that contradiction is found an inherent truth (death bringing forth new life). This shows how that which is negative turns into a positive. Likewise, suffering and pain can bring about unimaginable blessings. It is within this context that we can understand why the tree of death has turned into a life-giving tree. In the very beginning, a tree brought about the fall of Adam, but in the New Testament, a tree has brought about the glory of the new Adam, Jesus Christ. This is so because by his Cross he has redeemed the world. It speaks greatly about the temporal victory of evil over what is good. The Apostles saw in the cross the secret of their success. One of them exclaims, “As for me, however, I will boast only about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

Good Friday is a day to pause and think of the meaning of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It is also a time to reflect on how his wounds bring healing to many and how his death offers a ticket of salvation to everyone. The cross holds a place of pride in Christianity just as the incarnation and resurrection are important for Christian salvation. The hope of resurrection gives meaning to the passion and death, which is commemorated on Good Friday. The cross then becomes a symbol of hope.  Hope which blares out the message: No crown without a cross; no cross without a crown; no pain…no gain!

As we face the many trials and tribulations of life; as we struggle day to day with pain, illness, depression, anxiety, stress, financial hardship, uncertainty in its many forms…let us:
“cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.”

Amen.

 

 

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Washing Feet and Loving Each Other ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

John 13:1-15 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

I always wondered what Maundy meant. I thought it was just the name of the service of foot washing, or the old Latin name of the foot washing service, or was it named after somebody with the last name of Maundy? A little research reveals that the word Maundy comes from the Latin for mandatum or mandate in our current English. So is this a mandate that we wash others feet on the Thursday before Good Friday? In a sense, “yes”.

In the gospel we read that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and gathered his twelve disciples at the dinner table.  He knew that by the end of the night one of them will betray Him to the authorities, one of them will deny Him three times, and all of them will leave him alone in his hour of greatest pain.  And yet there He is breaking the bread and pouring the cup, eating with them, blessing them, getting down on His knees and washing their feet, showing them his love and grace and compassion in a time when his anger might have been better understood.  Yet in the end He knew that He was not about to be thanked or praised, but killed, and mocked, and tortured. Why? Because in the end, the goodness, the kindness, and the compassion He had brought were more of a threat to the Roman authorities and clergy of his day than any weapon or army.  Jesus so radically upset the status quo that they decided to get rid of him so that things might return to the way they had been before Him, when there were no “radicals”, no “troublemakers”, no “problem children”.

The night before he wasn’t running away from what He knew He was to face. He wasn’t preparing for a battle, and He wasn’t plotting revenge. Instead he was with the ones he loved the most, the ones who loved him, but were not perfect. The ones who knew who He was, what He had done, and would be his witnesses to His life and teachings after He was gone. This is where the word Maundy comes into effect. What do you do if you are Jesus? What do you do if you know you aren’t going to be around much longer and you have to tell the people you love the most how to keep moving forward after you are gone? You give a mandate or commandment – you tell your disciples exactly what you expect of them.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We are still Jesus’s disciples and we are still under the mandate that he issued over two thousand years ago. His commandment, His mandate; Love one another as I have loved you. This is the only way we can separate ourselves from the modern day Romans. We must continue to be Jesus’s disciples, practice what he preached, and love each other even when anger might be expected of us.

Maybe Maundy need to be retired and we should rename this Thursday to something not as fancy – like – “Love One Another Thursday”, or “ The Last Thing Christ Really Wanted Us To Know Thursday”. Maybe more people would get the meaning if we put it in simpler terms and did away with the fancy name. This is a message all Christians need to hear, so let’s not hide it behind fancy names, or just check it off of our Holy Week calendar as just another night. We need to let others know that this is how Christ said other people would know us: by how we love one another. Maybe changing the name might help us to remember what this night is about, and what it means to be Christians. Maybe if we kept that reminder in the front of our head, kept Jesus’s commandment first and foremost in our lives, Christ’s dream for us would come true. Putting a fish sticker on your car doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a Buick. Following Christ’s teachings and mandate’s makes us Christians. That’s what Christ wants us to be known for.

Lord in your mercy, help us to achieve the mandate that Your Son Jesus left us. Help us to love each other as Jesus loved us. Guide us and show us the way to true Christianity. Lead us down the path of righteousness, grace and compassion. Let us wash the feet of our fellow man as Jesus did for his Disciples. Let us show our fellow man that we are capable of loving one another as commanded by Your Son.  Amen.

 

 

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