Friday, April 10, 2009

Maundy Thursday and what love is

~ Hugs are beautiful ~
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp

Yesterday I attended my church's Maundy Thursday service. One of the associate pastors gave the sermon and he's a very animated character and I always get a laugh or two during his sermons. I must admit I had never even heard of Maundy Thursday until I moved to Houston over a decade ago. For those who don't know it is the day Christians celebrate four things: the last supper at which Jesus started what would become Holy Communion, Jesus washing his disciples feet, Jesus' private agony in the Garden of Gethsemene because he knew he was about to be crucified, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.

Most of the Maundy Thursday services I've attended have always focused on the last supper and the washing of feet. The time before Jesus' crucifixion was Passover and he took his disciples to a private room where he shared the Passover meal. The beautiful messages that follow in the gospel of John are known as the Upper Room Discourse. I absolutely love this part of the Bible, as it's very comforting to read Jesus words. He is so wise and kind.

Anyway, so you may have heard that Jesus washed his disciples feet. Well that was something that slaves did in that day, and Jesus was a teacher and it was unheard of for him to do something like that. So most of the disciples allowed him to, but when he got to Peter, who is very passionate and got out of line quite a bit, he said something like "No Jesus you will not wash my feet!" And Jesus replies, "If you don't let me wash your feet, you have no part in me." To which Peter then replies, in a complete reversal, "Then wash all of me, my head and hands too!"

You gotta laugh. He thinks he's being humble by turning down the offer of Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus puts him in his place. Then he goes overboard the other way, ok Jesus wash all of me, thinking he's just the most dedicated disciple ever. But Jesus puts him in his place once again, saying that once you're clean, you only need to wash the feet.

I don't think I've ever heard my pastors preach on this what I'm about to say but I read it somewhere, or maybe I just discovered it on my own, I don't honestly remember. But the washing of feet and the conversation with Peter is so clearly talking about forgiveness within Christianity. Once we've accepted the way of Christ, as we understand it, our "whole soul" is clean. Our sins are forgiven, past present and future. Yet when we go walking around the streets, living our daily lives, we get "dirt" in our lives, and on our feet. We say things in passion, that we regret. We judge. We are not patient. We curse. We yell. We leave things unsaid, or undone. We sin. We may need forgiveness, but it's not the all-encompassing grace, because we've already received that. It's just a daily dose of foot washing type forgiveness by turning to our God and asking Him to clean us, to forgive us. But all we need on our continuing journey of faith is to wash our feet, to daily come to have Jesus wash our feet clean and return to the way of love.

I asked my friends what love meant to them and here are some things they shared.

  • "Love is friendship set on fire." - Jeremy Taylor

  • God (1 John 4:8)

  • Caring more about their growth than your, or their, happiness. Not caring about them more than caring about ourselves. fine distinction.

  • Love in marriage is both sides giving 100%, Love in relationships of friends & family means .... well it really is 1 cor. 13 but also in Psalm 139 we are told how wonderfully God made us we never put ourselves down but we hope the best for that person. Check Philippians 4:4 ....only God can change a person and only God can fulfill everything. I think I cannot put it into one sentence.

  • I think we can't love anyone else until we love ourselves 1st. An incomplete person doesn't know how to love in a healthy way, and we can't look to others to complete us. Loving ourselves means accepting our God-given beauty & intelligence, our spirit & ability to experience joy. Then to love another is to want to make that person Feel our love & commitment to them & our acceptance of them - to give them the gift of a life-partner who will always be there for them. I think that's what God intended for us.

  • "Only love is" - A Course in Miracles

  • Allowing your partner complete freedom, which means not being possessive. Fostering a relationship that allows a state of egolessness. Being supportive but not smothering.

  • love, n. a confluence of neurochemical imbalances affecting the primitive "reptilian" areas of the brain and creating irrational and sometimes embarrassing behavior

  • Love backwards evolve?

  • The Meaning of Love~

    Both light and shadow are the dance of Love. Love has no cause; it is the astrolabe of God’s secrets. Lover and Loving are inseparableand timeless. Although I may try to describe Love when I experience it I am speechless. Although I may try to write about Love I am rendered helpless; my pen breaks and the paper slips away at the ineffable place where Lover, Loving and Loved are one. Every moment is made glorious by the light of Love. ~Rumi

  • Love is indefinable. :)

  • What is love according to kids 4-8 years old.

  • Love is a feeling. Feelings are fleeting. Yet love can be a commitment. I know I'm a better person when I love. I wonder if it has everything to do with grace. Even though none of us deserve the love we get or want...Love is forgiveness, acceptance, awareness of the "us" in all things, enlightenment, the ah ha moment, and definitely worth opening ourselves to and giving to others. Its late, I'm rambling but I might be on to something.

  • Honesty, trust, and it's okay to be totally yourself. I haven't found true love, but these are the things I've found are true, at least with friends and family. I am guessing that romantic love is similar...

  • Love is effortless, love is being able to be fully who you are, love is playful, love is giving the other person the freedom to be who they are, non-judgement,allowing them to have their own experience even if it might not be your cup of tea.

  • Love is God

  • For me, something my mom said to me when I was with her before she died REALLY strikes me as what love really is. I asked her about the 'wives submit to the husband' thing & she said to me that she AND my dad submitted TO EACH OTHER....& that is REALLY how it is meant to me. .....If u think on that, love IS akin to rowing a boat....If you BOTH row forward, that IS where you will go.If only one 'rower' is in charge, you just go in circles.....So I believe that love IS MUTUAL SUBMISSION,non?

  • Putting someone's needs before your own.

  • I realize I don't have an easy definition. The closest I can come is, Love is commitment, ie giving your all and your best to a relationship, as consistently as humanly possible.

  • I don't know what the heck love is ... the only kind I truly understand is the love I have for my daughter, which like Charlotte says, is effortless and playful. But this is my favorite love-related quote, and one I keep close by.

    Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see each other whole against the sky. - Rainer Maria Rilke

  • My personal favorite and my own choice for defining love:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.


Lisa Sullivan said...

I love this post (pun intended?)! I love how you sum up the meaning behind Maundy Thursday, the power behind the story, and I love how you mesh "love" with the explanation. Truly, Jesus showed his love for his disciples in so many ways but the washing of feet was bar far, the most poignant, at least I think so.

Thank you for celebrating our Holy Week the way you have with your insight. It's beautiful...and powerful.

God Bless you, Doug, and the children this Easter!

LOVE u! :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks Lisa - you are too kind! I am glad you enjoyed it. I loved reading everyone's definitions! I hope you also have a blessed Holy Week and wonderful Easter!! :)

Miranda said...

What does "Maundy" mean? Is it an adjective? "Man,I feel really maundy today!"

Last night I saw the movie "Doubt." It's not about love or faith exactly, but as you explore these big questions it would be a good one to see. I'm still thinking about it...(plus, fabu performances by Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Unknown said...

Miranda - I think Maundy has the same roots as Mandate. Its when Jesus implemented the new covenant - ie mandate - (holy communion) which is about forgiveness of sins, and grace versus the Law/works where one is "Saved" by how "good" you are or how many things you do for God, people etc etc. It's really the central facet that differentiates Christianity from other religions.