Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

I didn't attend a Maundy Thursday service this year, though for the past 2 years I have and have felt the weightiness of it. From a past year I wrote:
     Tonight was the Maundy Thursday service, my first. I didn't know exactly what to expect, though I anticipated communion and perhaps foot washing. Both were present. What powerfully struck me, though, what stunned and shook me was the emphasis of betrayal. Though the service was begun in contemporary praise, almost celebratory, the bishop's sermon emphasized that Judas accepted the footwashing of his master, ate the passover with his lord, all the while knowing he betrayed him, all the while perhaps even thinking how he would spend the 30 pieces.
     Then 4 basins were placed at the front, 2 in the center from which the 2 bishops wash and 2 at the sides for anyone else to use. This community quietly washed each others' feet...from the bishops washing the members' to the young men washing the bishops' feet...husbands and wives, fathers and children...friends. One of the most moving was a young girl, about 10 or 11, who took her daddy up to the side basin and washed his feet. She was weeping. She then crawled in his lap.
     Then the greeting of "Peace to you" and the feast...communion given to us by these servant leaders, the Bishop saying: "Christ's body broken for you"as he placed the bread in my cupped hand.
     The service ended with sudden harshness. There was total silence, no background keyboard or guitar, no choral reading. We had just finished communion, and the bishops forcefully stripped the communion table and tugged off their robes. Only the cross was left at the front with a bare table in front of it. The bishop threw a black cloth over the cross and abruptly pushed over the table. It thudded as it hit the ground. He ran off stage and turned and looked at the sound of a stake being struck several times. Then he ran out of the room, a look of anger on his face. 
     There was no movement, no sound as we all realized the implications. We, who just washed each others' feet, who just participated in the Feast together, were all the betrayers. Every last one of us, from the Bishops to the young girl. We were all Judas. We left the church in silence, no benediction, no blessing.

Then a later year, another Easter this:
     I didn't understand before what struck me so forcefully this year: the act of footwashing is done by the betrayed to the betrayer, by Jesus to Judas, by Jesus to me.
     And we are called to do the wash the feet of those who betray us and to allow those we have betrayed to wash our feet. I had this terrifying vision of the people I had betrayed washing my feet. Harder almost than Jesus ...with Him I know acceptance, I know vulnerability, I know He dived into the mess I was in and walked through it with me.
     But with others, I don't know if they really forgive...maybe because I don't forgive myself? Could I wash the feet of  people who have betrayed me? I hope so, I hope I do...Why is it so difficult to be that vulnerable with each other, when we are all betrayers of Him and each other?
     I do have more hope this year...more hope that it all is leading somewhere. More hope that there really is healing and maybe even restoration. And more assurance that we're not alone, will never be alone, no matter how lonely we sometimes feel.
     The pastor said on this snowy Easter morning, while huge flakes looking like doilies floated lazily down, that "more was gained in the Resurrection than was lost in the fall."
the fortunate fall...
And this year my thoughts are lingering on words from Taylor's book...the one about wearing skin. She says: 
     In the case of the meal, he gave them things they could smell and taste and swallow. In the case of the feet, he gave them things that were attached to real human beings, so that they could not bend over them without being drawn into one another's lives.
Then she imagines their thought process: 
     Wow. How did you get that scar? Does it hurt when I touch it? No, really, they're not ugly. You should see mine. Yours just have a few more miles on them. Do you ever feel like you can't go any further? Like you just want to stop right here and let this be it? I know, I can't stop either. It's weird, isn't it? You follow him and you follow him, thinking that any minute now the sky is going to crack open, and you're going to see the face of God. Then he hands you his basin and his towel, and it turns out that it's all about feet, you know? Yours, mine, his. Feet, for God's sake. (p. 44)

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