Apr 8, 2017

Maundy Thursday: Greatness Redefined

Here’s a thoughtful meditation and prayer of response inspired by the events of Maundy Thursday (see John 13:1-17). It was written by Nigel Varndell, and published on the Sanctuary Centre website. 

Meditation: Greatness Redefined

Why did you wash their feet?
I don’t understand, it makes no sense.

Why did you do something so demeaning,
so distasteful,
when you did not have to?
Why humble yourself and wash the feet of your own disciples?
You are the Messiah,
it makes no sense for you, of all people,
to do something that should be done by the least of all people,
not by the greatest.
It is not what we want our Messiahs to do.

Unless…
unless we have got it wrong and that,
somehow this is a measure of what Messiah means?
Not that it is defined in greatness
but that somehow, in your world the first will be last,
and the greatest, least and servant of all?

But if we are to follow you,
does it mean that we must follow your example too?
Are you suggesting that we too should make ourselves humble?
That we must wash the feet of the people whom we would rather ignore,
or scapegoat,
or deride?

Must we too become the servants of the least among us?
the refugee,
the disabled,
the homeless,
the addicted,
the anti-social,
the child?

Was that what all of this was about?
To try and put us in our rightful place,
not at the centre of our own world,
but at the centre of yours,
where we are no longer the most important person?
Is that it?
Were you trying to teach us this simple truth,
that other people,
all other people,
should matter too?

Is that why you washed their feet?

A prayer of response

Messiah I come,
Brought to my knees by astonishing grace.
In the presence of such humility
From one so great
What can I do but kneel and praise?

Messiah I come,
Challenged to bow to the King who kneels.
I want to pour out mercy and bring tender healing,
But I am proud, judgmental, and self-absorbed
And you are the only one
who can lead me to first-becoming-last greatness.

I would wash and serve, wash and love,
Like you do.
But first Lord Jesus,
Wash my feet, cleanse my heart
Till I am – like you –
Humble and ready on my knees.

~ in “Daily Meditations and Response prayers for Holy Week” by Nigel Varndell. Copyright © 2011 Nigel Varndell (Meditations) and 2012 www.thesanctuarycentre.org/whereworldandworshipmeet.  Posted on the Sanctuary Centre website.  http://www.thesanctuarycentre.org/