Maundy Thursday

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:34-35

Community is hard. It’s messy and dirty. Mostly, it’s overwhelming. Today is Maundy Thursday, a day set aside in Holy Week to contemplate and remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet.

On the night before Jesus was arrested and betrayed, he sat with his disciples and commanded them to love one another. The very same people that would shortly hand him to the soldiers and deny him, he reminded them of his love. The very same people who would soon abandon him, he reminded of his truth.

Jesus loved them. They were to love one another.   

Scripture knows nothing of the solitary Christian. People of faith are always members of a community. Creation itself was not complete until there was community, Adam needing Eve before humanity was whole. God never works with individuals in isolation, but always with people in community.
— Eugene Peterson

Sometimes I get this all wrong. I am messy and dirty. Mostly, I’m overwhelming.  I desperately want to be a solitary Christian. I don’t want to mess with the work and dedication it takes to build a community. It’s just easier to watch The Office for the 10th time. Communities, like families, are built on birth and redemption. They’re fortified by forgiveness and hard conversations. They are long nights of angry words and and early mornings of mercy.

They are not just Sunday morning sunshine.

Sometimes they’re Thursday nights of washing feet and getting to the bare dirt that we travel with. They’re clinking wine glasses and breaking bread as unknown trauma and death lies before us. They’re not just me and Jesus traveling this road in the sand. They’re me and His people on a pilgrimage up dusty paths, building a family of faith in the desert as we await his Kingdom.  

So as we travel towards Easter Sunday, let us pause today and remember the night of the Passover and Jesus’ desperate call.

Let us remember:

Jesus loves us. We are to love one another.

As we approach this Easter weekend, are you walking in community? If not, what keeps you from investing?

What do you think it means to be loved? How does it look? How does it feel?

What do you think it means to love like Jesus loves? How does it look? How does it feel?

What are some things you need to leave at the foot of the cross in order to love your community more deeply?

Four suggestions for you or your community:

Read the story of the Last Supper in Luke 22 and John 13, contemplating the significance of the event for both the original audience and for the Kingdom of God.

Invite your close community over for dinner and wash each others feet in remembrance of Jesus’ actions. Read the above sections to each other and discuss the ramifications of Jesus’ command.

Culturally, in the setting of the Lord's Supper, washing of feet was messy work. It was a task meant for only lowly servants. Consider a way you can engage in today's "messy tasks" for someone in your community. Offer to deep clean someone's bathroom or kitchen. Give the struggling parent some time away from their tantrum-ridden toddler. Get your hands dirty to show your neighbor love.

If your church community doesn’t have a service, attend a neighboring church and engage in the wider community of Christ followers.