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ScriptureJohn 13:1-17, 33b – 35

Action:  Before your evening meal, place a basin filled with water and a hand towel somewhere nearby.  As you finish the meal, read the Scripture.  Afterward, you might choose to:  wash each others’ feet; wash each others’ hands; or, put your own hands in the water.  Imagine what it would have felt like for the disciples to have Jesus do that for them.

The English word Maundy originates from the Latin word mandatum meaning “commandment.” On this evening, Jesus and his disciples gathered for a Passover meal.  During this meal Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper. 

Just days before Jesus had been greeted like a king upon arrival to Jerusalem. Palm branches were waved, cloaks lined the street and the crowds chanted. Now this “king” was washing his disciples’ feet and breaking bread with the one who would betray him. Some of the disciples didn’t want Jesus to wash their feet; to have one’s feet washed was a sign of servitude and respect. Jesus reminded his disciples by completing this act that even as their Lord and Teacher, he lowered himself to wash their feet and they should do the same for one another. This is Jesus’ example of servant leadership. Afterward, he told his disciples his new commandment, to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). He then told them that no one is greater than another. 

Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples, Paolo Veronese (1580)

Frequently, we are presented with opportunities to participate in servant leadership. Since the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen many ways people are being servants to others. There are individuals willing to go shopping for the elderly, nurses and doctors coming out of retirement to assist in the hardest hit areas and people pledging to stay home. By placing our desires and needs aside we are loving one another as Jesus loved first loved us. May we continue to seek ways in which we are serving others as Jesus taught and commanded. 

Jessica Green, Director of Spiritual Formation at Sylva First UMC