Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maunday Thursday*

When it comes right down to it, I'm pretty much of a stick-in-the-mud conservative. In my book, Obama isn't the malefactor he is on Fox News; and, quite frankly, watching Governor Mike Pence tap dance this week hasn't been all that painful. I mean, politically I'm probably not. 

But psychically, give me a ritual and I'm happy. I'm more-than-okay with what's ordinary. Innovation? Give me a break. What on earth is new under the sun? Not much. As far as I'm concerned, we'd get along better if we'd all go home with the one who brought us to the dance, you know? 

I've never been big on praise teams. Some people find them a turn-on because they can see how much the singers care about Jesus and that's thrilling, I guess. Me? I'd rather have a choir, and I'd rather they sang from the back of the church, as an offering. I'm too sinful for praise teams. They stand up there, mouthing mikes, and I'm wondering if what's-her-name is putting on weight, or why the bald guy playing the bass insists on wearing cargo shorts. You know. I'm distracted.

I'm a conservative. What the heck was wrong with the old-time religion anyway?

And I get scared on Maunday Thursday because churches in small towns like the ones I've lived in are always on the look out to out-hip their neighbors. They're always looking for something new, something that hasn't been done, something the church down the block isn't doing. "Ya' hear what New Church is doing this year? Why can't we do stuff like that? Sheesh."

Let's not and say we did, okay?

See what I mean? Basically, I'm conservative.

I get scared on Maunday Thursday because the whole Maunday Thursday business is new to me. I don't even know what Maunday means. I know churches practice the Lord's Supper on Maunday Thursday, but what is a Maunday anyway? 

When I was a kid, Main Street closed up tight from 12 to 3 on Good Friday, just flat shut down during the hours of Jesus's suffering. That I remember. I don't remember Maunday Thursday. 

And what I fear is foot-washing. Really, there are only a couple of reasons for Maunday Thursday services; one of them is the commemoration of the Last Supper. That's fine.

But these days, you just know someone's going to get out five-gallon buckets and ask men and women and their kids to come up and get their feet washed. Drop shoes and socks and plop in the water, then wrap wet toes with a towel from a stack yeah-high, you know? Somebody's going to do it tonight. Just watch. What I want to know is how do you choose whose feet get washed?--lottery? Do people say, "here, wash mine?" and who does it? the preacher? the elders? just anybody? We all wash each other's? Is that it? It's going to be a mess, see? 

It's chaos, and conservatives like me hate chaos. Not only that, it's another church fad, a gimmick, even though it's a couple thousand years old.

Besides, it's just not the same in a land where people don't wear sandals 24/7. You want to replicate everything that happened Easter weekend, why not make the whole congregation wear a crown of thorns or drink hyssop?

Makes me a disciple, I guess, thinking about someone else washing my feet. Makes me a disciple because they didn't like it either, found it repulsive, found it, well, theologically and culturally chaotic, out of whack, even disturbing, and that was 2000 years ago.

"Seriously, Lord?  You. Wash. My. Feet?" 

It was unthinkable. It was gross. It was obscene. It was perfectly ridiculous.

And He told them--get this!--if you don't get this, you honestly and truly don't get me. If you don't understand, you missed the whole program of the last thirty years. I came to this mucked-up world to wash feet--that's been the mission since day 1.

It is a big deal, no question. It's huge. It's bigger than anything we or the disciples can handle. God almighty bending down to wash dirty feet.

It's the whole story. That's what he told them from down there on the floor as he pulled the bowl up closer to the stool. This is what I'm here for, he said.

I don't care what you say, it's not something I'm comfortable with--that's all there is to it. And neither were they, those disciples who not all that much later fell asleep.

Neither were they.
*First published April 2, 2015


Anonymous said...

We are instructed to commemorate the institution of the suffering and death of Jesus; not the washing of feet, neither the supper itself.

Rika Diephouse said...

"So Jesus engaged in serving [the disciples] by meeting their needs. First, the need for clean feet. In those days feet really needed to be washed. It should have been done before the meal, because in that time they ate lying down, so noses and feet were not all that far apart. It would have been nice if the feet had been washed and anointed before the meal. But the disciples were unwilling to stoop (literally) to do that, which proved they had a far deeper need than dirty feet; they needed to learn about the servant heart of love. Apparently even after Jesus showed them, they still did not understand. So he made sure they got the point...". taken from "Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23"

Jesus was demonstrating humility and love to his disciples by meeting their physical need to be clean. Dallas argues that today's foot washing services are more beneficial to the person giving the service, than to the one receiving it.

John Kooiman said...

I can relate Jim. The "kiss" principal today is dead.

Papa88 said...

My Lutheran Pastor would come to the rail, towel around him and wash an acolyte or a volunteer's feet. Demonstrate humility. We reenact the Supper as well. Different ways, depending on the Pastor. Always look forward to the service. Praise service: Bah. Not professional, for one thing, so I don't come to that mass when they do that. Like your take on your experience and thought. I agree with it Professor.