Last night, in our candle lit sanctuary, we celebrated Maundy Thursday with a hand washing and communion.
I hadn't realized how much I needed the quiet service.
My day involved rushing around, getting things at home done, convincing children to finish math or science (or both), and then rushing out to work. After work I rushed out to pick up my son for soccer practice. I had time to throw a few snack items in a bag, grab some water and my two boys and then sit at the soccer field. My time at the soccer field was nice - watching my 10 year old boy practice makes me smile. My four year old boy is BUSY; constant motion busy. So we chatted while he jumped, climbed on my head, ate all the food, and drank all the water.
At break time I told the big boy that we had to leave - it was almost time for church. He rolled his eyes, he groaned; he wanted to scrimmage. I wanted to go home in and climb into bed and read while no one talked to me. I pointed out that it seemed neither of us would get what we wanted.
The entire five minute drive home the boy lamented the lack of food in our house. The pantry is in a sad state, missing canned beans AND peanut butter. Also, I told said boy that he could not cook fish sticks while we were at church because I worry about him burning himself. Tears erupted at this point. Now my eyes were rolling because I had to go, had things to do, had to get in there. As I walked into church, slightly irritated, more than a little tired, and quite hungry I felt the tension in my shoulders.
So many places I would rather be.
My four year old was hanging onto my hand and bouncing around like a yo-yo on the end of a string, wearing his signature yellow boots (and please, God, let him have on underwear) and discussing farts. All I could think was, "What the heck am I going to do with him during church?" My teenage daughters were handing out bulletins, my ten year old was home eating frozen fish sticks, and I was supposed to help my husband with the service.
I looked up from my littlest, to be greeted by three beautiful smiles on three beautiful faces. The last time I saw these friends was at a funeral for a beloved wife, friend, and daughter. Here were three people who had more than their share of long days, and they had come to see our family at our new church in our new town, and to celebrate Maundy Thursday.
It's funny how hugs can erase tension and growling stomachs. It's funny how you can forget about how tired you were just 3 seconds before only to be filled with gratitude that there are people in the world who know and love you.
The children and I eventually settled in our pew, in the dark and the quiet, and I whispered to my little one, "We are remembering the last meal that Jesus had with his best friends. They ate and then he washed their feet."
I wonder what kind of tensions Jesus had in his shoulders that night. I wonder if he was hungry as he sat at the table. I know that there was no where else he would have chosen to be that night. Jesus is not one to rush from place to place as we do, but I do wonder if he felt this night had come too quickly. As he looked around the table at his friends, listened to their conversations, what thoughts were turning over in his head?
I think of the love he had for his friends, for each of us in the world, as he taught them another thing about himself. As Jesus and the disciples ate the meal, remembering the Hebrews escape from slavery, remembering the blood of the perfect lamb which protected the Jews from the tenth plague, the Angel of Death, could they have understood the perfect love that Jesus was offering? Did they enjoy their time with Jesus that night, did they look back and think, "I wish I hadn't been thinking about all that I had to get done." I know that's what I think sometimes when I'm spending time with Jesus - making my grocery list, thinking of laundry and doctor's appointments rather than where I am and who I am with.
As I watched friends and strangers wash each others hands in a bowl, and then tenderly dry them with a towel, my eyes stung. We remember how vulnerable we are when we allow another person to do something for us, but especially when we allow them to wash off our dirt. I can only imagine the distress the disciples felt when the Messiah washed their dirty, travel worn feet. I know the love that filled their hearts as they relaxed, realizing that their Creator knew them inside and out, that the dirt on their feet was nothing compared to the dirt in their hearts, and that this act of love was a gift that they would never forget.
Last night, after we had washed hands and shared communion, I sat back in my pew. I looked at the glass bowls that had once been filled with crystal clear water, but were now filled with murky water. My first thought was, "Oh man, we should not have used a bowl you can see through. That is gross."
Suddenly I relaxed, knowing that Jesus, our Living Water, has taken on way more dirt than is on our hands.