‘Something to encourage and to think on’
Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, 9th April 2020
The Servant Lord
1 Cor 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
We are in a very difficult situation. The whole world is sick. The corona virus is influencing are whole society. For old people it is very difficult especially when they are alone. They can’t go out. Their children and grandchildren cannot visit them. They are feeling lonely and they are dependent from others helping them. For disabled people it is the same especially for the people who are mentally disabled or face psychological problems. They may not understand what is happening, they are feeling alone and for the people around them it is not easy to explain.
I have been thinking about the refugees on the Greek islands and at the borders. The war in Syria continues. Children are dying because they have no food and clean drinking water. People die of exhaustion in an open field without a roof. We don’t read it in the newspapers anymore, we are too busy with our own crisis, but the war continues. The politicians are thinking about a big fence around the refugees so that if they have corona it won’t spread. For now, nothing happens to help them.
Especially in this time we miss the church. We miss the Eucharist, we miss the sacrament in which Jesus is giving Himself for us, in which we really feel connected to God.
“Do this in remembrance of me.”, says Jesus. We can’t do this. We simply can’t celebrate Eucharist, we can’t come together without spreading the virus.
Washing the feet
Traditionally we read the Gospel of the foot washing. Jesus puts everything upside down by taking the role of a slave. It was the task of a slave to wash the feet of the visitors. It was common that if a visitor enters your house a slave will wash his feet.
When Peter objects Jesus answer makes clear why he is doing this: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” How can Peter have part with Jesus? To let Him wash his feet and to wash the feet of others.
The washing is not only because the feet are dirty. It has a deeper meaning. It is about sin. He knows that Judas will betray Him. He knows that Judas is unclean while the others are clean. Washing the feet is about forgiveness, about washing away our sins.
This period we have to stay at home. We can’t have fun together, we can’t meet each other and we can’t celebrate Eucharist. We miss it. The Eucharist is at the heart of Christian worship. It is a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus, in response to his words at the final meal he shared with his disciples, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the Eucharist, God invites us to his table as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which he has prepared for people of all nations and cultures.
It is the first time that it is impossible to celebrate Eucharist with Easter. We are not the only ones. For persecuted Christians it is very often too dangerous to come together for worship. They need to find other ways to worship.
What can we do?
This period feels like being in the desert. We can’t go out to have fun together, we can’t go to a concert, to the cinema, to the theatre. We have to stay at home and wait. What can we do? We can keep watch and pray because the world is on fire. We can meditate about the reason Jesus died on the cross. He died because of the sin in the world, because of our sins, that is how He served. What can we do? Can we forgive people who hurt us? How can we help people? How can we be a sign of peace? How can we serve? How can we wash the feet of our neighbours? We can’t do that literally because of the virus but we can stay connected with the people around us. We can use our devices, we can help people who need to stay in isolation. We protect people by keeping distance. We can pray for the people who are ill, we can pray for the doctors and the nurses.
I was wondering, do we miss the church now that we can’t gather? You could say that we are still the church even without a building and without Eucharist. We know that we have the right direction if we pray “Thy kingdom come”.
I have chosen “The servant King” as song for today. It is the servant King who is calling us to serve. How do we want to follow Him?
You can listen to this beautiful song here:
God our Father,
now that we can’t go to church to receive bread and wine,
be with us when we are at home and try to worship.
We pray for the people who are ill,
for the people on the intensive care,
for the doctors and nurses who take care for the sick,
for the refugees who face terrible circumstances.
We pray for ourselves,
that we experience that the church is more than some stones,
help us to keep connected,
help us to follow Jesus, o Lord;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
By Angela Berben