Friday, March 13, 2009

Feetwashing thought, and other maundy things

I've been thinking about our upcoming Maundy Thursday service at church. I think I'm going to change it this year. Usually we have a light meal - kind of like the Last Supper - and we take communion from the bread and juice served with the meal. Also, in our denomination, we observe Feetwashing as an ordinance. So we usually break up - men with men, and women with women - and wash one anothers feet. In John 13 Jesus says, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet" (v.14). We take that literally.

But as I was planning the service, and the Scripture readings and things... it occurred to me that... what if in our literal interpretation of this passage, we're actually missing the point of it? I mean, I believe the point Jesus is trying to make is about humility and service to one another. And even though we talk about that, I wonder if sometimes we don't subconsciously miss it, because in the back of our mind it registers instead as simply "I washed someone's feet on Maundy Thursday and therefore am humble and service-oriented"? Is it possible to give symbolic acts so much credence that we lose sight of what they are symbolizing? It's not meant to be a one-night thing, but a lifetime thing; all the time.

I don't know for sure what I will do yet. But I am thinking of just having a time of meditation on the subject, instead of actually doing it. Especially after seeing this quote by Martin Luther on D.D.'s blog:
If one does rightly meditate on the suffering of Christ for a day, an hour, or even a quarter of an hour, this we may confidently say is better than a whole year of fasting, days of psalm singing, yes, than even one hundred masses, because this reflection changes the whole man and makes him new, as he was in baptism.

So wouldn't the same thing apply to feetwashing? Better to meditate on the meaning, than to just wash somebody's feet.

Anyway, I am also forcing myself to not put so much into the Maundy Thursday service this year. For some reason I usually spend more time and energy on this service than any other service during the year (probably because it's one of my favorites). And yet it is inevitably one of the lowest attended. I think last year we only had 6 people show up. So we will not be doing the Stations of the Cross, or the meal, or any of the time-consuming scenery changes. We'll just read some Scripture, sing a couple songs, take communion, and that will be that.