A Look Back by The Rev. Will Compton

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

It is Easter. The tomb is empty and our hearts are full.

However, if I may, allow me return to last Thursday night at the Maundy Thursday service, specifically to that event that either you love, or you do not. You guessed it, the foot-washing. The footwashing is the mandatum (meaning “commandment” in Latin) from which the term Maundy comes from. It specifically comes from Jesus’ commandment to us that, “Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.”

There is no middle ground with the foot-washing. You either do or you don’t. I still remember every person whose feet I have washed and who have washed mine over the years. Then there are times when I have sat out at the foot-washing, so I have both participated and not participated. This year, I participated, and though my participation was very touching and tender, it was observing others in their participation that moved me. From my perch on the left side of the altar, I had a bird’s-eye-view of the action. Sons washing the feet of fathers. Mothers washing the feet of daughters. Young washing the feet of old. Long-time members washing the feet of newcomers. Grandchildren washing the feet of grandparents. Husbands washing the feet of wives. Friends washing the feet of friends. Strangers washing the feet of strangers.

I became lost in what was happening. I do not remember how long the foot-washing lasted, but I do know that the choir ran out of songs to sing. During those seconds and minutes, the world stood still. Christ was very present as we imitated Christ in what we were doing. In those sacred moments, the world got a little smaller, a little sweeter, a little more loving. We were all bound together: foot-washers, foot-washees, those who looked on with curiosity, and those outside the walls of the Chapel. The foot-washing was a balm in Gilead for the hurt, confusion, pain, wounds, and intolerance in the world. The foot-washing was an antidote for the venom of hatred, cruelty, racism, and prejudice all around us. It was an action of vulnerability in a world where we are ever increasing the impenetrable walls around us. It was an action of fragility in a world where hardness of heart is the norm. It was an action of openness in a closed off world.

If we are to follow the risen Jesus, if we truly are Easter people, then our lives must emulate Maundy Thursday. If we are to celebrate the Great Fifty Days of Easter, we are to remember Christ’s mandatum on Maundy Thursday.

At the foot-washing, we are reminded of our call to serve. So whether you looked on or participated, may we all wash the feet of the world.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!