The first Maundy Thursday I ever let someone wash my feet it took almost all the will I had to allow it. I had to override the shame reflex that implored me to keep my socks on so no one would see my toenails deformed from botched, in-grown toenail surgeries. Who washed my feet that first Maundy Thursday decades ago? It could have been a person I love, didn’t like or didn’t know. All I remember is whoever poured the water and toweled them dry was Jesus too, holding my soul’s bare naked need in his calloused hand.
Grace family, Holy Week is before us. On Sunday we’re going to join the ad hoc parade that gathered around Jesus on his way up the hill to Jerusalem to face the dehumanizing power that is both ancient Rome and every Empire the world has ever known. We’ll get whip lash from how quickly the crowd of good, church going people turn on Jesus when he refuses, suddenly, to make miracles for us and instead puts his very life in our unreliable hands. We’ll sit with him at Passover and read the story of God’s mighty acts to free the oppressed peoples of the world with the images of Syrian children murdered with chemical weapons still freshly burned into our corneas. The next day we’ll walk with family from about a dozen other churches around Jersey City, stopping to pray in places where people’s lives have been taken or changed forever by violence. Together in the street, we’ll try to keep “awake” in a world fallen so far from the love of God that we are usually inured to the cry of our own neighbor’s blood, calling out from the ground.
Then, God God’s self will die too.
When the sun has disappeared and with all hope extinguished, we’ll gather by the grave on Saturday night where we buried God, maybe long ago, behind the piles of unpaid debts, broken promises, threats of loss and certified heart break. But God won’t be there anymore.
Love will rise up from the grave to take the world’s naked, ugly, shameful need into His calloused, loving hands.
You don’t have to believe any of that to join this Holy Week walk. Just come. Your heart will know before your mind ever does who Jesus is. And if you tune out the other demands upon your time and your pride’s resistance, I think you will hear him speak your name.
I’ll meet you there.
Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm