John 13:1 –17, 31b –35
13 Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully. 2 Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. 4 So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. 6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.” 8 “No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.” 9 Simon Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus responded, “Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you is clean.”
12 After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. 14 If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do. 16 I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them. 17 Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
From today’s Hereford Times:
A FORMER headteacher at a Hereford secondary school has been gifted special money from the royal family – but what is Maundy Money?
Every Maundy Thursday, the Queen gives money to a number of nominated people from across England and Scotland. The Royal Maundy Service has not gone ahead for the past two years. Instead, the Maundy money was blessed at the Chapel Royal, before being posted to recipients alongside a letter from The Queen. This year the service has taken place at St George's Chapel, Windsor and the recipients will receive their Maundy money and purses from The Prince of Wales, who is representing the Queen.
What is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the apostles. It is part of Holy Week, which starts on Palm Sunday, and not only symbolises the end of Lent but it also marks the lead up to the celebrations of Easter. It includes Maundy Thursday and ends on Holy Saturday and is described as "the most solemn week of the Christian year".
What is Maundy money?
As part of the traditional Ceremony of the Royal Maundy, the Queen takes part in a service, and during the event she will gift the purses containing the money to a number of deserving senior citizens. This year, Prince Charles took part in the service instead. The tradition of presenting alms on Maundy Thursday goes back to at least the 4th century and in this country, the first record of the monarch doing it is in 1213. The number of recipients changes ever year, and this year there will be 96 men and 96 women to receive a purse. This is because the number of recipients is equal to the monarch’s age, and the Queen will turn 96 on April 21. Maundy coins are specially minted and are legal tender.
Who is being sent Maundy Money in Herefordshire?
Andrew Marson is the only Herefordshire recipient in this year's Maundy Money from the Diocese of Hereford. Mr Marson is a former headteacher of the The Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School from 1986 to 2007 and treasurer of Preston Wynne Holy Trinity Church. He retired from his role as headteacher and soon took up an active role in his church, Holy Trinity in Preston Wynne, where he led a church youth group and runs services. He has also led a successfully bid and secured heritage lottery funding to refurbish Holy Trinity Church.
Mr Marson said: "“I was surprised and wondered how my name had been put forward. I am looking forward to sitting in St George’s Chapel again and being amongst such worthy people as part of this tradition, which reflects the monarch’s leadership of the Anglican church.” I spent 21 happy years at the Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School and tried to serve the students and staff to the best of my ability. Maundy Thursday signifies for me Jesus as the servant king. The school motto is 'always faithful to Christ'. I was a Deputy Head in Windsor for 8 years so it will bring back many happy memories.”
The Rt Rev Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford, who made the nomination,s said: "The Maundy Money ceremony is an opportunity to recognise the long-standing contribution of two individuals, who have made an incredible difference to people's lives and the ministry of the Church in our Diocese. "I am delighted that the service will take place in person this year. It is a joyous celebration, and I am deeply thankful for Janet and Andrew's ministry in this diocese."
Anyone here aware of this tradition? The Queen of England- technically the head of the Church of England- handing out cash during Holy Week? The article mentions it happens every Maundy Thursday dating back to the 13th century, at least for the British monarch. The article did not define the word Maundy, which is not an every day modern English type word. According to Miriam-Webster.com, the word is derived “...from Middle English maunde, from Latin mandatum command, order; from the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper, ‘a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another’ (John 13:34 Authorized Version).”
Sequentially, yes, the dictionary website is right that the commandment to love does follow Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. But there is a significant gap- about twenty verses- between footwashing and the command to love. In the gap, Jesus predicts his betrayal and dismisses Judas from the room: “After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.” Satan’s presence in Judas precludes him from truly loving Jesus or anyone else. The darkness that enfolds him and the other enemies of justice, peace and mercy is powerful and overwhelming.
Before Judas leaves the table to betray Jesus, the word love or loved appears a handful of times- eleven times in twelve chapters (this includes the famous John 3:16, “...for God so loved the world…”). But between Judas’ exit and his return at the garden, love/loved shows up 28 times. In three chapters. In between two encounters with Judas, first around a table surrounded by his teacher and friends, then in a garden accompanied by armed police and leaders of the religious opposition, Jesus speaks of this radical love over and over. Hear this:
“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. I give you these commandments so that you can love each other” (John 15:9-17).
As tensions heighten on that first Maundy Thursday, love is taught and displayed more and more. When we think about embodying God’s love, or abiding in Jesus’ love, most of the time we are thinking about caring for each other: praying for those who are sick, supporting those who grieve, providing for those in need. The love Jesus calls us to, however, goes beyond care. I like to say that the purpose of the church is to form people into the image of Christ. That means that we are to love as Jesus loved. A love that is for all- a love put on display on his cross, which is John is understood not as a weapon of oppression but a throne where Jesus fully receives and displays his ultimate authority: “When I am lifted from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” What is the force the draws people to Jesus? Love. God’s radical, status challenging, political, anti-racist, pro-justice, anti-imperialist, love.
Over the centuries the anticipated outcome of Maundy Thursday changed from radical love expected of every Jesus follower to gifts of charity by powerful individuals. The love Jesus calls us to changed from justice and righteousness, social and personal holiness, to a symbolic gesture. Ironically, on the same night Judas received a reward in coins for revealing the location of Jesus’ secret prayer garden, the monarch dispenses coins from the treasury. The Maundy money, those specially minted coins, are often kept for keepsakes, not used to buy food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, a place to live for those without secured housing. What is the impact of shifting the burden of radical love to symbolic gifts of charity? It lessens the responsibility on us. Since someone- the Queen, the Pope- has done something on camera, it takes the rest of us off the hook. I’m not criticizing their generosity; I’m challenging the complacency in everyone else that is an unexpected outcome. It makes it easier to accept the way things are, rather than make the necessary changes in the world Jesus called for and commanded us to pursue.
Sometimes Maundy Thursday services involve footwashing, or if that is too messy/stinky/logistically challenging, the washing of hands. But I would argue the command to love is messier than the stinkiest of feet. The kind of love Jesus mandates his disciples to have- to exhibit to the world- is a radical, self giving, self denying kind of love. A love that insists on solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed. The kind of love that protests injustice wherever it is encountered; the kind of love that challenges the demands of empire, forces that endanger peace and well being for all; the kind of love often dismissed even within the walls of the church as too political, too controversial, too upsetting to the way things are.
We are not washing feet or hands tonight. The Church at one point in its history debated making footwashing a sacrament, but decided not to. Jesus used it as an example; sacraments are ordinances either instituted by Christ (holy communion; “do this in remembrance of me…”) or participated in/received by Jesus himself (baptism). As we prepare to participate in the sacrament Jesus instituted on this night, let us ask ourselves: How are we embodying the love of Jesus? How is my love for Jesus shown in my love of neighbor- and not just those who worship like me, speak like me, vote like me, live in a neighborhood like mine. As we serve each other, be mindful of the call- no the command, the mandate- to love. Consider: what am I doing to embody love? What am I not doing? Are my actions- is my inaction- keeping the most vulnerable from experiencing God’s love? Nourished and sustained by communion, we are sent to love. “I give you a new commandment. Love one another with the radical, barrier breaking love of God. Then everyone will know you are my followers. If you have love for one another.” In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.