Thursday, April 9, Maundy Thursday, Year A
Focus Lesson: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Additional Daily Lessons: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people follow Jesus’ example and use their hands to serve God and neighbor.
Context: Today we take time to remember the last Passover supper that Jesus ate with his closest disciples. He washes his disciples’ feet, showing us by example the humble ways of love and service. Jesus also invites Peter, James, and John to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest.
Key Scripture: So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. John 13:14-15
Gratitude Connection: One of the easiest ways to cultivate more gratitude is to keep a daily list of those people, places, and things for which you are grateful. Trust me, it doesn’t take long for the list to grow! To look upon the world with a heart of gratitude is a key element of servant leadership. Gratitude focuses the heart outward, and the love of Christ compels us to love and serve our neighbor.
Reflection: The world was about to change for Jesus and his disciples; in fact, it would never be the same after they departed their last meal together. Perhaps this year we can have a better appreciation for experience of Jesus’ closest followers for our world and lives have been disrupted, too. Much is at stake. Some things will never be the same, and that is likely a very good thing. Uncertainty and anxiety are rising. Many of us are locked in our homes for fear of COVID-19. We are looking for someone to make everything all right, to reassure us. Some of us are hopeful for fresh leadership that will begin the serious work of dismantling systems of injustice and oppression. Some folks make comparisons between the Pax Romana and a sort of Pax Americana.
This year we have an unexpected opportunity to invite more members of our congregations to experience Holy Week in a deep and meaningful way. Because most of us are relying on digital means of communication, it might be helpful to go back to square one and rework elements of the traditional service into a time of education, faith formation, and accessible worship. Keep it short. Offer ways for interaction at home.
Consider inviting every person to have ready a small towel (shop or kitchen towels work well), a large bucket, a pitcher of warm water, some anointing oil, crayons/markers and paper. Invite each family to light a candle as they join you. For your homily or meditation, why not talk about the hands that serve? Jesus certainly sets the example about service and servant leadership for us in this lesson. Some possible conversation starters include:
- What would you do if Jesus showed up tonight and insisted on washing your feet?
- Why do you suppose Jesus chose this time to show such great love and humility?
- How can you serve? Make a difference? Show the love of Christ through your own hands and service?
- What can you do right now during this time of social/physical distancing?
- Who do you see showing the traits of servant leadership right now?
- What might we do differently or better as the Body of Christ in our community when we are finally able to gather again?
- How might we encourage a viral spread of service and gratitude that will eclipse COVID-19?
You might also offer a blessing of the hands and towels that serve. Invite worshipers to pray over each towel, that the one who holds it will find ways to serve and love. Anoint each others hands (or your own) and offer a blessing for the hands that serve in Jesus’ name.
If congregants have crafted a home altar you might want to provide an order for stripping the altar while reading verses from Psalm 22. Here’s an order already posted on the buildfaith website: https://buildfaith.org/maundy-thursday-at-home/
If you want to provide some education about the Great Three Days, check out this article in Living Lutheran: https://www.livinglutheran.org/2013/04/three-days-traditions-maundy-thursday-good-friday-vigil-easter/
Digging Deeper: How easy do you find it to serve others? Does it bring you joy? Do you enjoy sharing Christ’s love and making the world a better place? Spend some time praying, journaling, or pondering how you might choose to serve once you are able to fully reenter the world. What one thing might you work for that could help bring about lasting change in your community? Is there a new ministry God is calling you to start or an existing one that could use your gifts and talents? If you’re having trouble landing on an idea, take a look at the gratitude journal you’ve started keeping to see if patterns emerge or if something jumps out as a possibility. Don’t forget to ask God to guide you in the process.
Images: Urban Promise, Creative Commons, Ulman, Wikimedia Commons