Christian churches around the world celebrate the Thursday before Easter Sunday. It is called “Maundy Thursday,” but few people know what it really means. The term “Maundy” comes from a Latin word meaning commandment.
As Jesus came nearer to the horrible death he was to die, he did two things that we think about on this Thursday before Easter. First he said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Then during the Seder meal, a time Jews remember the deliverance from their Egyptian captivity, he broke bread and gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body broken for you.” Then he gave them a cup and said it was his blood shed for them.
Only as they looked back on that fateful night did they remember these words and begin to understand their full meaning. Two thousand years later we use this as a way of remembering Jesus.
Before the supper, Jesus did something that was the duty of a servant: he washed the feet of his disciples. Walking along the dusty streets of their cities and towns usually wearing only open sandals created a problem of dirty feet. Most hosts would have a servant wash the feet of his guests before they reclined at the table to eat. Apparently in the rented room where they would eat the Seder meal, a servant was not present. Jesus did the job. Only then did he say they were to love as he had loved them. It’s a straight-forward message! Love requires humility and service.
What does this have to do with people in Cherokee County, Georgia? First, the most important feature missing from our social interaction is love. Under our present “social distancing,” most of us will not be washing each other’s feet!
While loving by action is the hardest way to demonstrate we are obeying Jesus’ commandment, we can reveal loving attitudes. A telephone call to a person living alone brings great joy. A handwritten note telling a relative you care and miss them can mean a lot. Even an email can carry some humility and gratitude to someone about whom you care.
In the novel, “In His Steps,” the phrase “What would Jesus Do?” became a way to focus on loving as Jesus did. It allows us to find ways to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even in our modern age.
Affirmation through caring behavior becomes a powerful show of humility and a willingness to serve. We need folks who are willing to think about others’ needs first. Too many of us are like two children sharing a piece of bread; the other child always has the bigger piece.
We might translate Jesus’ words to say: “Let the other person have the biggest slice.” Jesus didn’t take half. He gave his all!
Think about that!