More of us, at least in this country, attend some kind of religious service on Easter than on any other day of the year, including Christmas. There is standing room only. Overflow crowds gather in buildings adjacent to the main building of worship and watch the services on closed circuit big screen television. I don’t know if the collections reflect the over flowing attendance, but I would imagine they do. So not only do we attend, but we feel generous to give to an institution about which at other times we have nothing good to say.
Hey, I am not knocking it. Just curious to know why we attend and why we give?
So you attend a lengthy vigil service on Holy Saturday evening. Or you attend a rousing service on Easter morning. Yes, rousing. Usually the music is extremely celebratory and often extra instrumentation is added to highlight the feast. Maybe even a liturgical dance is performed. There is often a renewal of some sort, in many churches a renewal of Baptismal vows. Oh, and we dress up. We really dress up. Even the guy who never dresses up, dawns a white dress shirt even if he does leave the tails out.
So what is it all about?
As I reflect on the way Jesus was born and died and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, the way he walked the earth and served people, it seems pretty simple, pretty uncomplicated, pretty non liturgical, pretty non-organizational in nature, and overall, non-descript.
Well think about it. Non-descript compared to our current religious rituals and liturgies, our lavish buildings, our marketing, our collection of goods and property, and our exclusivity. Yes, exclusivity. We have rules about who is in good standing and who is not, who can attend and who cannot. We have an absolutely awful evil trail of cruelty and wickedness toward people and cultures we judge not to be in either God or the church’s good graces.
For whatever reason, during this Paschal time, we focus our attention on the crucifixion, and what little we know of the events of Easter Morning. We don’t know much about those events because we were off hiding. Remember that part? Somehow we equate the crucifixion and the resurrection with our salvation. But if we stop and think about it, the outstanding event of Holy Week is Jesus washing our feet and inviting us to do likewise. Maybe there is our salvation. Allowing Jesus to wash our feet and then doing likewise.
So who was the last person whose feet you washed? Hey, I can’t tell you either. So I’m in the same boat. I’m just asking the questions. I’m not pretending I’m any better than the rest of us.
For whatever reason, we could not let this gesture, the washing of our feet, sink into our hearts. We could not go with Jesus after he washed our feet and pray with him. We fell asleep! We did not get it that our Faith is not about slaying “bad guys” with our swords, but about washing feet, even the feet of our perceived enemies.
Even though Jesus washed our feet, we could not stand by Him when the soldiers came to arrest him and go with him after they arrested him. We ran and hid. We denied we knew anything about him. One of us betrayed him outright.
Jesus also invited us to heal others, not with a big show, but quietly moving about the world, laying our hands on those who are wounded, letting them be healed by what Jesus placed in our hearts when he washed our feet, just as he did for Malchus after Peter cut off his ear.
If Jesus were to show up today, He would again wash our feet. Unfortunately, shortly after washing our feet, we would have Him arrested and taken away again. We have yet to take in what it means for Jesus to wash our feet and his invitation for us to do likewise.
Jesus absolutely does not fit into any of our church settings or worship ceremonies. It is beyond me that we don’t get that, or if we do, we ignore it. Jesus would once again decry us for our dens of thievery, our philacteries and long tassels, and for our complete lack of service.
So, we went to a service either Saturday or Sunday morning. What are we taking away from our attendance? Perhaps, there’s not much there to take away. So go back, all of us, go back, go back to that evening when Jesus washed our feet. Let us look at the simplicity of his life and his absolute commitment to serve and heal us.
Just think about it. Let it sink in. Let it sink in. He washed our feet. Told us to do likewise and to heal.
Is that something we can take away and put into practice in our own simple, non-descript way? In other words, no one has to know when we heal someone. No one has to know when we wash someone’s feet.
What do you think?