Watercolor painting by E. J. Kirsch

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Mar 29, 2018

So, What’s a Maundy? 3-29-18

John 13:1-20
March 29, 2018 Maundy Thursday

This is my 10th holy Season with all of you, and I have a confession to make.  I am not compatible with one of the traditions of this congregation.  Before becoming your Pastor, for 33 years I led worship services on the Thursday before Easter that were entitled Holy Thursday Services.  During my first Holy Season with you, I discovered that you do not have a Holy Thursday Service; you have a Maundy Thursday Service.  I have for the past 9 years intentionally and unintentionally referred to it as the Holy Thursday Service, and have been corrected.  So the title “Maundy Thursday” remains.
But I do wonder how many of you know the difference between Holy Thursday and Maundy Thursday.  They are, of course the same day, but they tend to have a slightly different focus.  Holy Thursday refers to the Thursday of Holy Week, the night of the Last Supper, and the worshipers are focused on the Last Supper.
But only 3 of the gospels tell us about the bread and wine of that meal.  John, instead of informing about the meal, tells us about something dramatic that Jesus did during that meal.
He tells us that during the meal, Jesus got up from his place at the head of the table, took off his outer robe, tied a towel around his waist, and began to wash their feet.
In that time and place people bathed and dressed before going to a special meal or party.  But the streets were dusty and they wore sandals and no socks, so even though they had bathed they arrived at the supper with dusty feet.
Often there was a servant available at the site of the dinner with a pitcher and basin full of water to wash feet.  It appears that on that evening there was no servant, but the pitcher and basin were there.
And during the meal, Jesus, their master, took on the role of a servant and washed their feet.  They were shocked, they didn’t know what to do, and they didn’t know what to say. 
Now, most of us, when we don’t know what to say, remain silent, but some of us when we don’t know what to say, speak anyway.  Peter was that kind of guy
So when Jesus got to Him, Peter insisted that Jesus would not wash HIS feet.  He could not tolerate his master stooping to such a menial task. Jesus said “If I don’t wash you, you are not mine”.
Still not knowing what to say, Peter spoke again and insisted that Jesus wash his hands and head as well as his feet. 
Jesus said that was not necessary, those who had recently bathed as he had, were still clean, except for their feet.  He said that they were clean, well, not all of them, allowing for Judas.
The other 11 believed in Jesus and would soon be washed by the blood of the lamb, Jesus would soon be cleaning them from their sins by his death, but they would still need to help each other stay clean. 
There are two lessons Jesus gave about the washing of their feet.
1. As He, though their leader, acted as their servant, So they were to humbly serve each other.
2. He would die to cleanse from sin those who believed in Him, but he commanded them to do things to and for each other to keep themselves clean.
We are to help each other live pure lives and keep God’s commandments. 
When one of us begins to live or think as non-Christians do, we are to gently serve each other in ways that lead us back to Jesus.
If you look up the meaning of Maundy you will find that it generally refers to the act of Jesus in washing his Apostles feet.  It comes from the Latin Mandatum, which means commandment, and refers to the new commandment that Jesus gave to his followers, Love one another, or in the context of the foot washing, Serve one another.
Tonight we remember that Jesus gave us this meal to celebrate his death for us, His death that makes us clean and whole and citizens of his kingdom.  And we remember that at that meal, he also gave an example of how they were to love and serve each other, by loving them, correcting them and doing loving deeds for them.  He washed their dusty feet.


Pastor David Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906