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Lenten meditations: Maundy Thursday, April 17

Penitents celebrate Holy Week
Penitents celebrate Holy Week
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

As we enter the final days of Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each is accompanied by corresponding relevant scripture verse(s), and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, submit ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us complete our Lenten journey of repentance, meditation, and anticipation through the final days, to the joyous resurrection on Easter morning.

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Today’s scripture reading is from the Gospel of John 13:1-7 and 31-35.

Poor Peter, bless his heart! He had followed Jesus enthusiastically. This plain fisherman’s faith had grown and although in his humanity he may have stumbled, he set a beautiful example of “a follower who falls on occasion is better than one who fails to follow.” Peter was about to be given horrible news about the man he had so deeply loved. Jesus was about to leave him and where Jesus was going, he, Peter, could not go. However, prior to Jesus’ words preparing Peter for the Lord’s departure, Peter witnesses an act of profound love by which we are all made aware of the intensity and depth of Jesus’ love for each of His own.

Here were the disciples in the upper room with filthy, dirty feet, yet none was willing to put pride aside and perform what had become a customary act reserved only for a servant – washing feet. So Jesus removes His voluminous outer garment and is left in His under tunic which was equal to a slave’s garment. He then begins to wash the disciples’ feet, including Judas! As Jesus moves closer to Peter, you can only feel the shame, panic, confusion, and seeming disaster of seeing his Lord humble Himself in this way.

In actuality, He is providing a great teachable moment for all of us. Isn’t He precious! The Lord leaves us with this perfect example of how He wants to find us when He returns; serving one another in humility and love. The Lord not only leaves us with a discernible example, He then commissions us with some of His most beautiful words: “Love one another. As I have loved you,” so you must love one another.

Only when we recognize Jesus’ greatness does the full wonder of what He had done in so humiliating Himself to cleanse us from our sin truly grip us. The seeming disaster on the cross was the Lord’s great glorification. So, do we follow His example and commandment in faithful expectation of His return by ‘washing others’ feet’ daily? Do you wrap that towel around your waist and on your hands and knees serve all, those you love and those you are called to love? Will this be the way the Lord finds us or...are you, in your humanity, like Peter and me with some days being better than others – a work in progress? However and whenever He may return to us, my prayer for each of us if that He may find us humbling ourselves and serving others in love.

Bibs Babson

Trinity Cathedral, Liturgy Preparation and Sunday School

Columbia, South Carolina

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If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.