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Holy (Maundy) Thursday

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Texts & Discussion:

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35


Other Resources:


Matthew Henry,    Wesley

Word Study:

This Week's Themes:

Last Supper
True Discipleship
Passover/God's Plan of Redemption

Three Complete Holy Thursday Services:
Messianic-Jewish Seder
Tenebrae Service

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 Texts in Context | Commentary:   PsalterFirst LessonEpistleGospel
| Hymns & Songs | Children's Sermon | Sermon based on Text  



To Serve and Be Served
based on John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Rev. Karen A. Goltz

It seems like such a noble calling, doesn’t it? “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We know we fall short of showing that kind of love sometimes, but it seems like for the most part we can take pride in the love we do show. Look at all we do for others. Look at all we sacrifice in the name of Christ. How many other things can we be doing at this moment, rather than sitting in church on a Thursday night? Or on Sunday mornings? This congregation right now is in a state of flux and turmoil. Look at all you’re doing just to keep it going, to move forward, to continue to be church. Surely that’s the kind of love that Jesus was talking about!

And you’re right. It is. There’s a lot of self-sacrifice going on here in the name of Christ. There are a lot of you taking on the role of servant, ready to wash the feet of your fellow disciples, just as Christ said you should.

But how many of you are willing to have your own feet washed?

That seems like a much less noble calling, doesn’t it? Sure, it’s easy to accept the humiliation of serving, because we know it’s better to give than to receive, and we know that Christ calls us to serve one another. So we can be the noble servant. But how easy is it to accept the humiliation of being served? What do we tell ourselves then? How can we feel noble when we’re watching someone humiliate themselves for our sake, doing something for us that we’re perfectly capable of doing for ourselves? After all, Jesus never had his feet washed, did he?

Actually, he did. In the seventh chapter of Luke’s gospel, we hear this story: One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. [Luke 7:36-38]

It’s bad enough imagining someone kneeling down in front of you with a basin, putting their hands on your feet, bathing them with clean water, and then drying them with a towel. Some of you may have experienced foot washing services in the past where you did exactly that, perhaps just before or just after doing the same for someone else. But how comfortable would you feel if the person next to you, or worse yet, someone you didn’t even know, knelt down before you and began to weep and cry, their tears dripping on your feet, feet that you didn’t wash yourself in preparation, and then dried your feet with their hair. And then they began kissing your feet and rubbing oil on them! If that had been part of the service tonight, how many of you would have had someplace else more important to be? [continue]