Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. It's the fifth day of holy week, where we reflect on the Last Supper. For me, this is the most emotional day of holy week. I have a great love for this thing we call the church. I grew up it in it, and it has shaped me in more ways than I count. Unfortunately if you have spent any good amount of time in the institution of the church you're sure to see that we tend to mess it up a lot. In fact, so much so that when we read about the Last Supper in the holy scriptures we begin to look at the gathering with a degree of foreign, unfamiliarity. However, the Last Supper is the most honest, authentic, gritty, inclusive, and gorgeous church service in all the bible.
Let's recap this Last Supper deal shall we? First off, we have a former prostitute busting in on the meal, dumping some VERY expensive perfume on Jesus's head, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, casually drops that one of the people around the table is about to hand him over to the death penalty, and then demonstrates/creates what we call communion today.
Sounds like a quiet night in.
I want to press into the last supper because it's church. It shows us who we are following, and cuts right to the heart of what we should be doing as we gather.
Mary pouring precious perfume on Jesus sets the tone. It's not only a symbol of Jesus being anointed, but it's also a pretty radical statement all on its own. Mary is a former prostitute, broken, and healed by Jesus and his word. The scripture says that Jesus had previously freed her of seven demons. She is also (pretty obviously) a woman, which unfortunately in this stage of human history was not exactly a celebrated position. Tragically, women held a very low place in society and I think it's all too fitting that in this kingdom Jesus came to bring about he would be anointed by this person. An unlikely upside down twist, declaring that things are different now. The old ways of doing things, the status quo, is now irrelevant. It's being replaced with this brand new economy of love, full acceptance and grace.
Then we have Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Telling his closest group of friends and followers that this is the very reason he came. To serve, and not to be served. This is a picture of the God of the universe washing the lowest part of our body. Scrubbing the feet of his creation like a father caring for his children. That's enough to make me well up with emotion.
Up next there's communion, the eucharist. At this point Jesus knows what's coming, and he realizes that we need something centering, something we can use to get right back to this spot at the table. The Eucharist is tradition, and the beautiful thing about tradition is that it takes us out of the constructs of time. In it we aren't here or there, we are in the act. Joining with those who came before us and those who will follow. We enter into the very same action Jesus and his disciples were in. The eucharist so beautifully sums up the fact Jesus is present in our gatherings.
Now we get to the present part. In our churches are we seeing this kind of radical love? Whose feet are we washing? How are we remembering Christ, and entering into the reality that he is alive?
You see, this last supper is instructional for us. It seems to me that this is the way we should gather, so let's drink some wine and wash some feet.