Holy Week is the only time in the church calendar we enter "real time" with Jesus. For seven days we rehearse his literal final seven days. On Sunday I wrote the tension I was feeling between the wary disciples and the palm-waving crowds receiving Jesus. Every account of Holy Week is lit with this electric dread and I keep finding myself in the artistic renderings of the disciples juxtaposed with the face of Christ.
Look at their faces today.
[some thoughts I wrote last year, reprised]
We are a whole race of humanity unloved, unappreciated, and undone by our unmet desires. We continue the dance steps taught so well by our forebears: extend hand hand, inviting relationship; use left hand to slap each other upside the head.
These past many weeks of the liturgical calendar, we've walked through our remembrances of the whole, unflinching gestures He gave in His birth, life, death, burial and resurrection. He gave Himself completely in all that He did, in every relationship that He entered. He offered both hands, as open, active, sturdy, earthy, and even wounded gestures of giving and receiving love. He gave us a new way to be human in relationship. In community.
He called it a new covenant. He fulfilled the old covenant and moved toward the entire human race in love. The first time He used these words clearly with His friends, He included some very specific, earthy actions to help them remember His love. He served the bread and the wine, yes, but before that He washed feet. He washed the feet of each man in the room -- those who loved Him and those whom He knew would betray and desert Him. He moved toward each man with indiscriminate, holy tenderness.
A new way to move toward one another; a new hospitality, indeed. Grounded in the unconditional love of the Father, we are free to offer our love sacrificially, expectantly, hope-fully.
And then He told us to live on loving one another in His love...
"In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet."
-- from a Maundy Thursday sonnet by Malcolm Guite
*art credits from Tate:
1, 2. Sketch(es) for 'Jesus Washing Peter's Feet', Ford Madox Brown, Tate Collection
3. , Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet. 1852-56 (retouched several times up to 1892). Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London