Friday, April 15, 2022

Reflection of Jesus Dying and Mary Magdalene Watching


They wouldn’t let us be close to you. They kept us at a distance. All we could do was wail and lament. Still, even in the distance, even though it was difficult to see, the other Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and I all knew the exact moment it happened. As soon as the earth began to rumble and the rocks split apart, we knew. You had breathed your last breath. It was done. We heard later that the veil covering the holy of holies had ripped in two. That is the way I also felt. Ripped in two.

I remember just a few days ago, looking into your eyes after I anointed your feet with the nard and wiped it with my hair. I could see that you knew that I understood … that you knew I knew you were going to die.

I also remember that you said that you would return in three days.

But right now? It doesn’t matter. Just as we watched from afar as you breathed your last breath, now we watch just as helplessly as Joseph of Arimathea carries your body wrapped in clean linens, lays you in his tomb and rolls the rock into place.

All I can do now is to watch with you … watch for you.


Offered by The Rev. Deacon Barbi Click at St Paul’s StL Wednesday in Holy Week,
April 13, 2022

MAUNDY THURSDAY John 13:1-17, 31b-35 Take off your shoes


My daddy’s mother was one of the most giving people I have ever known. She was the epitome of the woman standing at the back door holding a plate out to the Big Depression “hobo” who knocked and asked for a few scraps of food. Not a scrap giver, she offered full plates. I remember the meals she cooked for all who came to help with whatever yearly event was happening on the ranch. I recall the Sunday-Go-to-Meeting and church picnic dishes she prepared. I remember fried chicken, fresh biscuits, and every family member scrambling to get the biggest piece of her “butter roll” dessert. To the age of 90, she cooked meals for her rural Meals on Wheels AND delivered the meals. She was wonderfully gifted at giving.

Receiving, not so much. When we tried to give her a present she would say, “Pshaw” in a self-deprecating way followed by “you should not have done this!” and she meant it. It was not a sentiment of humility. It was an admonishment. One time, I gave her something that was a very special gift from me to her. I wanted her to really like it. Immediately, out came that offhand response. It hurt my feelings. As a know-it-all young adult who believed I could speak up to authority, I boldly told her, “Grandma. You are always giving other people things, but you never let us give to you. Sometimes the biggest gift you can give is to take their gift for you.”

You want to hear that it made a difference, don’t you? Well, maybe. But I know Pshaw was a part of the response. Regardless, she did accept the gift and told me she loved it.

I used to look at Maundy Thursday with a feeling of Pshaw! And a sigh at the thought of having to take off my shoes and have my feet washed. Or to wash the feet of others. I would guess that there are many people here who agree. I do not know what causes foot shame but so many of us have it. Other than the sweet little feet of a baby, I’ve heard few people express delight with feet. I was no different.

And then.

One Maundy Thursday I was kneeling at the bare feet of a St. Paul’s parishioner and as I held her foot and began to run the water over it, I was overwhelmed with love. Tears welled up and began to fall and one dropped onto her foot. I felt the urge to kiss the foot in my hand. Now, that might seem a bit creepy. Even now, I can imagine what her face might have expressed had I followed my urge. Still, it was a mighty moment where I realized that it was not me giving; rather, I was receiving a gift of love. She allowed me to wash her feet, to love her. It remains one of the most precious gifts I ever received.

Peter is where we might have been. He is shocked to think Jesus would stoop to wash his dirty feet. Oh, No you won’t, he exclaims! Jesus is adamant, Oh yes, I will and if you don’t let me, you will have nothing to do with me.

I can imagine Peter’s tears welling up as he concedes.

To wash someone’s feet, a person must kneel low in front of that individual. To kneel before someone is a vulnerable action. And then, imagine the feet. The roads are dirt. The shoes are sandals. The feet are coated in layers of dust. To kneel before a person and wash their feet is a humbling thing, servant’s work.

Jesus asks, “Do you know what I have done to you? … I have set for you an example.” If he, as their Lord and Teacher, can do this thing, then so shall they do it for others. He loves them so much … so much that he kneels before them to wash their dirty feet. It is a gift, and he gives and he receives.

This is a gift that is ours to receive. This act of foot washing is a humbling experience, not just for the one who bares their feet but for the one washing. The foot is an offering in trust that you will take it and feel the love of that person as you cradle this gift in your hand and let the water wash over it.

We are told to love one another yet it is not simply the idea that we give love. Love is a two-way street, meant to be shared. It is humbling, it is surrender, it causes us to be vulnerable. It requires us to receive the love offered to us.

It is the way that God loves us.

Take off your shoes. Let down the walls that protect you. Can you receive the love?

Normal does not mean OK

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