Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday: love, humility, forgiveness, reconciliation


Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you
(Jn 13:1-15).
Today we remember that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, by which they were to symbolise their love for one another by mutual subjection and humility. And then He ate bread and drank wine for the last time. Most Christians commemorate the Last Supper all year round, but we witness the foot-washing only once a year, and rarely is it physically re-enacted. Perhaps we should precede every celebration of the Eucharist with foot-washing or a modern equivalent; a little induced humility to dispel superiority, test doctrinal infallibility and confront our pride.

After all, we still all need to wash our feet, though today they tend to be more odorous than begrimed from the desert dust. And we all need to eat, but the bread and the wine are privileges. Only if we are humble, forgiving and reconciled may we dine with Him; only when everything else fades into oblivion can we feed on Him.

But it never does, does it? Life is messy, you see. We intone the liturgy and pray the Lord's Prayer - "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". But we have not forgiven because the grievance still eats into our soul. There is bitterness, resentment, malice, even hatred. And yet we eat the bread and drink the wine. Funny, isn't it, how restless and eager we are to demand the excommunication of our brothers and sisters for their notorious sexual sin, while we take the bread and drink the cup with hearts of hate, hostility and malevolence.     

If we are to feed on Him, we must be humble and love one another. It is the fruit of the Spirit by which we might be made known to the world. If God can empty Himself to become man, then we can empty ourselves of self and fulfil the human vocation to be in the image of God. And that doesn't entail always being kind, nice, liked or acting the amiable doormat: loving one another can be a prickly, argumentative and disapproving process. But it is never proud, conceited, ostentatious, haughty, sadistic or spiteful. And nor can it be unforgiving if we are to live, pray and worship with one another as one body, as He agonisingly entreated in Gethsemane. 

20 Comments:

Blogger The Explorer said...

By Christ's example, leadership is manifested in service to others.

That must be one of the starkest contrasts possible between Christianity and the self-serving of modern politics.

17 April 2014 at 09:16  
Blogger Len said...

Jesus came into the World as 'the last Adam' to fulfill God`s original intention for mankind which was to live in harmony with God .
The first Adam rejected God and decided to go the way of rebellion which set humanity on the pathway to Chaos.
Jesus Christ showed us God the Father in everything He said and did.
When we become 'born again' born of the will of God we become able to reflect some of the attributes of Christ forgiveness etc..But there remains a struggle between the old nature and the new nature until the new nature eventually triumphs.

'For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.'(Romans 8:14)



17 April 2014 at 12:05  
Blogger Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Your series this Holy week is very inspiring.
Today you look at humility and I reflect on how critical we are sometimes towards some of those whom claim to be part of the body of Christ.
Our Lord said; But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

So hard to do when you see and hear such hypocrisy from certain quarters. Our Lord however did not hold back when talking about the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Sadducees. Vipers and whited sepulchres.

17 April 2014 at 12:07  
Blogger Irene's Daughter said...

And He washed the feet of Judas - knowing that he would betray Him. Awesome!

17 April 2014 at 12:19  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

It is good to be reminded how eady it is to nourish pride, sloth, unforgiveness, greed and other abominations in one's heart while pointing to the sexual sins of others. Sins we may have had neither inclination nor opportunity to commit, perhaps as too busy worshipping the colder idols of money, career and reputation....

As Eric Clapton (whose fascinating autobiography I am just reading) wrote

'Before you accuse me, take a good look at yourself.'

17 April 2014 at 12:25  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Your Grace,

your series this week is more than excellent, and so very apt for the season. It is also drawing out some very good, thoughtful comments from your communicants. Truly this blog is a most valuable thing.

17 April 2014 at 12:40  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace: May I add my thanks to others here - for this week's series of thought-provoking essays.

Today's goes some way to addressing a problem others have identified - in understanding the Dual Nature of Christ: who acted as both God and Man, and so showed us that God understands our human points of view (povs).

Your final paragraph plainly identifies the povs so prevalent in our terrible time: And that doesn't entail always being kind, nice, liked or acting the amiable doormat: loving one another can be a prickly, argumentative and disapproving process. But it is never proud, conceited, ostentatious, haughty, sadistic or spiteful. And nor can it be unforgiving. It's reassuring to know that one isn't alone in being subjected to demands for "respect"!

On forgiveness - I might note that, like 'love,' the concept means different things to different people. I, personally, have no problem in forgiving, especially as I increasingly recognise that the vindictive "know not what they do" ... and I see lust for revenge as ugly (and un-English, for some reason). Besides, God is the Judge, and therefore forgiveness is his remit and supersedes any pretensions of mine.

However, I do hesitate when directed to forgive and forget! Forgiveness not being at issue, I am a fool if I forget. If I do that, the other person may not begin to see his own shortcomings. Turning the other cheek is good policy so long as I remember how to encourage the aggressor to think twice about breaking his own rules and defiling himself.

17 April 2014 at 13:09  
Blogger Nath said...

"Only if we are humble, forgiving and reconciled may we dine with Him; only when everything else fades into oblivion can we feed on Him."

Beautiful, your last clause is particularly striking and perhaps could be a stepping stone in outreach to the Eastern religions.

17 April 2014 at 14:17  
Blogger Brian West said...

Consider this hymn, by one of the best contemporary hymn writers.

(If anyone wishes to reproduce and use it, please be sure to observe the copyright terms and record its use on your annual CCLI return.)

A bowl of water and a towel
became a sign of grace
when Christ, the Lord, the Teacher, took
the lowest servant's place:
his work of power and parable
could only be complete
when he had knelt before his friends
and washed their grimy feet.

What scandalous humility!
Our hearts recoil in dread:
should we not kneel to worship him?
Can he serve us instead?
Yet answered by his firm rebuke
our protest quickly ends -
unless we let him wash our feet
we cannot be his friends!

And still, across the centuries,
he presses home his claim:
that we who know the things he did
must learn to do the same;
for we have felt love's gracious touch
far more than we deserve!
and with it, heard love's highest prize:
the call to go and serve.

Martin E Leckebusch (b.1962)
© Martin E Leckebusch, admin. The Jubilate Group

17 April 2014 at 16:54  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Nath
"Beautiful, your last clause is particularly striking and perhaps could be a stepping stone in outreach to the Eastern religions."
Buddhist monks from India reached the Greeks.Some of the Jews did have a belief in
re-incarnation.In the Middle East today the Druze still believe in it.

17 April 2014 at 18:09  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

His Grace. “Funny, isn't it, how restless and eager we are to demand the excommunication of our brothers and sisters for their notorious sexual sin, while we take the bread and drink the cup with hearts of hate, hostility and malevolence.”

Not fair, that man.

We both know what you mean by the ‘notorious sexual’ don’t we ? But where does excommunication come into it ? And “hate, hostility and malevolence” is to be expected from an all too human society who sees their youth, male and female, at risk from that particular sin. Let us be clear on this, those who advocate the sin, advocate it for ALL, and the younger the better. They do not do half measures. They do not respect a society that is naturally adverse to their ways and what they would have our precious young do so as to join them. They would rebuild society to gravitate around THEM, and they are achieving damnable success to that end, and with the succour of Christ’s churchmen, of all people !

How can anyone refute “If we are to feed on Him, we must be humble and love one another”. Words worthy of our Christ himself. But the humility and love (respect) is not to be expected from one side alone. That is the mistake those modernizers in the church are making at this very instant. The movement to inclusion and rehabilitation is for now as it’s ever been, nothing but one way, is it not ?

The notorious sexual is thus a special sin, and we need to take heed of it. It is not confined to the privacy of individuals, wish that it were, it would be of no consequence hidden away there. For the rest of us, it will be as insidious as the sin of abortion, a society changing evil brought to us by equally well meaning types.

17 April 2014 at 18:13  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thank you for this YG,

Maybe you can start something here!

The Ordinance of Humility (Footwashing) is an essential part of our communion service.

I will confess that, at first, I held it as being most frightfully un-English.

I mean, I don't even know these people, and You expect me to get so personal??!!

Well, The Lord is patient and I soon learned that pride needs curbing.

Now I look forward with delight to this solemn service that brings us closer to Christ.

17 April 2014 at 19:29  
Blogger Sister Julian said...

Just returned from Eucharist including footwashing, before the removal of the sacrament to the altar of repose in the Lady Chapel and the stripping of the altar. Very moving, leading us on to Good Friday and the joy of the lighting of the Easter fire on Holy Saturday. If it is possible, we should all walk this week with Christ in order to fully appreciate the joy of Easter.
Sister Julian is a widow, retired teacher, sometime lay reader and member of the Order of St Cuthbert.

17 April 2014 at 21:32  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Inspector General in Ordinary said...

His Grace. “Funny, isn't it, how restless and eager we are to demand the excommunication (Think the word that you refer to we who disagree expect is actually 'Repentance') of our brothers and sisters for their notorious sexual sin, while we take the bread and drink the cup with former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell resolved to take a year off from his beliefs in order to explore atheism (Old Ernst is consistent with what the Lord requires from any sexual sin. That you stop and repent...hearts of hate, hostility and malevolence never enters into it!!.)”

Old Ernst is with OIG on this one.

I can only conclude that HG is having a personal Rumspringa for Lent...Where he tries to live and think the life of a liberal hedonist, bit like the former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell resolved to take a year off from his beliefs in order to explore atheism?

As Lent finishes tonight, hopefully HG will revert back to his traditional position and normal service will be resumed tomorrow without any of this 'Homosexuality is not a sin, it's a gift and blessing from God' nonsense.

Blowers

17 April 2014 at 22:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

17 April 2014 at 23:03  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Gordon Bennett, could not OIG and Blofeld stop banging the drum on sexuality for a bit?

Yes, sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful, but so is so much else that humanity does which constantly slips under the radar.

It might be better to concentrate Christian ire on such things as the ceremony of Maundy Money, or highly ritualised foot washing, which precisely because they are once-a-year ritualised parodies of Christian humility in action just stick in the craw.

I'm pretty sure that the Queen, who has a bewildering choice of palaces available, giving what are basically medals to a few worthies as a means of avoiding the equally useless ritual foot washing that used to take place, was not quite what Jesus had in mind when he told us to love one another.

Choreographed humility, followed by a retreat to a comfy palace, is worse than nothing at all.

18 April 2014 at 02:34  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Darter @ 02:34

Surely it's a legitimate principle of blogging to respond to a comment made by the host?

HG raised the matter: the Inspector and Blowers responded to it.

If they themselves had introduced the topic, that would have been very different.

18 April 2014 at 08:24  
Blogger Len said...

The big problem today is that we are living in a post Christian age so we have to begin with the basics when attempting to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ .
Paul had the same problem when preaching to the Greeks who had no Christian foundations. The Jews had a firm Biblical base to build on.
So to tell someone( brought up in a Greek culture a Greek way of thinking)
"repent your`e a sinner" can be quite meaningless to them.

So whats the answer?.
Why Won't They Listen?

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/wwtl/foreword
(This whole book can be read online)

18 April 2014 at 08:40  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Hello Explorer,

Yes, ok, fair point; apologies to Ernst and OIG.

It just seems sometimes that the sexuality question round here is a bit like Cato saying 'Delenda est Carthago' before every speech.

I read HG's point as a plea to use Easter reflection to look beyond it at the full range of Christian love and human value, which at least for a couple of days seemed fair enough.

18 April 2014 at 08:46  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Well done Blowers. Welcome on board.

Thanks to The Explorer for stating it as it really is.

Darter. This man is not alone in thinking that His Grace has gone native, as we used to say a hundred years ago, when we ruled a quarter of the world. These odd ways out in the empire, not at all wholesome, you know...

19 April 2014 at 00:06  

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