Good morning, Mini-Women. Here we are on what is called Maundy Thursday. "Maundy" comes from the Latin word "mandatum", and that means "commandment." As we follow Jesus to the upstairs room of a house in Jerusalem, we are about to be given our last commands by our Lord ...
A Passover meal has been prepared for us, and it looks yummy. We're talking lamb, potato pancakes, salad and some bread that smells so amazing we can't wait to get into it.
But before we can reach our places at the table, Jesus motions us all over to the side of the room where he has a bowl of water and a towel.
"Take off your shoes, Mini-Women. I'm going to wash your feet."
Immediately we remember the woman the night before who anointed Jesus. It doesn't seem right for Jesus to be cleaning OUR dirty, smell feet. Shouldn't we be doing that for HIM?
Of course he knows what we're thinking and he smiles and gestures for one of us to sit down. While he washes her feet as tenderly as a mom bathes her baby, he says, "I'm doing this to show you how much I love you AND how I want you to show love for each other."
This is mandatum number 1: Love one another as I (Jesus) have loved you.
When we all have clean feet, we gather at the table. Again, before we can eat, Jesus says something disturbing: "Tonight, one of my friends will turn me over to the authorities to be arrested."
"What?" we all cry practically in unison. Some of burst into tears. Some of us shout protests. Some of us want to know who this loser is so we can find him or her and stop them. (Which are you?)
Jesus simply says, "Let's get on with the supper."
But who can eat now? We're still picking at our food when Jesus picks up one of the good-smelling loaves of bread. The way he handles it -- like it's important -- makes us put down our forks and watch.
He blesses it. Then he holds it up high and breaks it. And he says, "Take. Eat. This is my body."
As we pass the broken bread around and serve it to each other and put it into our mouths, we know something is happening. We're not really eating Jesus' flesh, but somehow we're closer to him.
Jesus then holds up a cup of a drink made with grapes and he gives thanks for it. Just as with the bread, he tells us to pass it around and serve it to each other, saying, "This is my blood of the promise I make to you, that you are forgiven. Do this often. "
We do as he says, but some of us are confused. What does this mean? Do we have to do it every day to be forgiven?
As always, Jesus knows what we're thinking and he says, "This is my way of showing you that I am in you and you are in me, and that we are in the Father and He is in us."
So that is mandatum number 2: feed on Jesus in this special way to remember that we are one with him and with God.
We want to stay in this room forever, just being with Jesus and washing each other's feet, but he has other ideas. "We're going to the Mount of Olives," he says.
"In the middle of the night?" someone says.
Why are we surprised? Jesus doesn't do things the way everyone else does. So we follow him, still feeling awesome from the foot washing and the supper and the ceremony. And what does Jesus do? He bursts our bubble.
When we've gathered around him in the chilly spring night air, Jesus says, "You will all desert me. But when I'm raised up I will go ahead to Galilee and meet you there."
Once again we cry out in protest, but Jesus calms us with a hand up. "Before the rooster crows tomorrow at dawn, one of you will actually deny even knowing me, not once but three times."
Some of us burst into tears again. Others are scared to death. Still others continue to swear that it will not be them. Jesus doesn't try to stop us. He simply says, "I need to go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Will you come with me?"
Of course we do, but our thoughts are not about praying. They're about :
* are we really willing to do things for other people like wash the dirt off of them?
* do we really believe we're forgiven?
* do we actually understand that God is in us?
* what would make us desert Jesus?
* why would we ever deny knowing him?
It's a lot to think about. Some of us write about it in our Talking To God Journals. We all whisper comments to each other. We're sad and scared. And yet somehow we stay.