Scripture – John 13:1-17, 31b-35
The greatest gift we could ever receive or give is love. Love is a gift from God. Do you believe this to be true? How many times have you seen or been love in action? How many times have you been led to do something for someone else out of love?
We are living during one of the worst pandemics the world has ever seen. As we adjust to the call and need for “social distancing,” some of us struggle to adhere to the basic rules of staying home, only leaving to go to essential places, remaining 6 feet apart at all times, and not gathering in groups of ten or more. Our lives have been turned upside down and we have had to adjust to a new way of living, being in community, and showing love to one another.
Today’s scripture introduces the foot washing story and frames it as an act of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ words indicate that the disciples ought to wash one another’s feet (v. 15) just as he has done for them. So, as we recognize today as “Maundy Thursday,” which is derived from Latin and means “a new commandment,” we are to adhere to verse 34, the command to “love each other” with the words “just as I have loved you.”
This act of service by Jesus represents love and we should mirror that in our relationships. Due to the extreme nature of the time we are living in, loving one another through acts of service must look different. We are to think outside of the box on ways to be of service without being physically present with one another. As we learn to love others, it proves our spiritual maturity and our relationship to God. Therefore, we must let love be our response in all that we do. Love is a way of living that is made possible by God’s grace through the working of the Holy Spirit. How can you show and be love to those around you this week?
Dear God, show us how to love others like You loved us. Show us how to be of service even when we cannot be with one another. Help us to feel Your love and guide us in our showing up for others, even from a distance. Thank you for being our example and for this call to shine the light of Your love ever outwards. Amen.
Though foot washing is the traditional experience remembered on this day, you are invited to participate in a hand washing ceremony, either by yourself, or with others in your household. Gather a bowl of warm water, some soap, and a hand towel, and then wash one another’s hands while reading the liturgy printed on the back of this page.
Remember that we are called to serve others, just as Jesus did. Let this hand washing be a sacred act, reminding you of how God calls us all to give of ourselves for the sake of others, through an outpouring of our love.
Note that this experience may feel awkward – that’s ok. It is a vulnerable act to wash another person, whether it be their hands or their feet, and it can also be a vulnerable act to allow yourself to be washed. Think about how the disciples must have felt when Jesus came to them, and how significant it was that Jesus would serve them in this manner.
Liturgy for Hand Washing
(If doing this as a family, have one person read the text below before you begin the hand washing. For the bolded text, have everyone read that line together.)
Creator God, we give you praise and thanks. For you brought creation to birth, made us in your image, saw the goodness of your creation, and called us blessed.
We see you revealed in Jesus. Who laid aside power to proclaim the coming of your kingdom, by riding a donkey along a dusty road to the praises of a crowd, shouting:
Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest!
We come together here in the name of Jesus who, on the night that he was betrayed, took water and a towel, knelt at the feet of his friends, the disciples, and washed their feet, asking that they remember him and live by his example.
Spirit of God, be with us today as we wash each others’ hands in a gesture of loving remembrance. Help us to bring your kingdom here among us, through acts of love.
In the name of the one who lived and laughed and loved and wept and died and rose again, that we might know the way of living in your love. Amen.