At no other time in the church year does Eucharist reveal its meaning so clearly and compellingly.
This day, we gather with the disciples (including the holy women) to celebrate with Jesus the Passover meal. With our backdrop a Hebrew meal of sacred remembrance already deeply rich in meaning and practice, we can ask the question of the oldest child,”Why is this night different from every other night?” And around the table the story begins—again.
This night, Holy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ saving actions:
The washing of the feet, the breaking of the bread, the dying on the cross.
Here Jesus sums up his life and gives to us a lifetime task of discipleship: the washing of one another’s feet, the breaking of ourselves as bread for others, and the dying to ourselves, in love, which proclaims his life–giving death,
And invests the other actions with its ultimate meaning. Each of the three actions describes and enriches the other two—as we are fed, we are food, as we wash, we bring the waters of life, as we make memorial of Jesus’ death we offer our own poor-pouring out in gratitude for God’s abundant mercies.
In all three the stance of the heart is the same: as T.S. Eliot put it: A CONDITION OF COMPLETE SIMPLICITY COSTING NOT LESS THAN EVERYTHING.
This is what he gave us—a lifetime’s death in love and this is what we try to return—a lifetime of becoming what we receive, a lifetime of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ—like an apron.
I have an image of a garment, woven, which each of us receives in Baptism and along with it, the task of continuing the weaving. Jesus provides the warp threads, endlessly repeated, what he does for us eternally: wash feet, break bread, pour out his life on the cross.
These are the core of our garment—the golden warp threads of his life mingling with ours, structuring ours. All our lives we weave our garment, in and out, over and under, the washing and breaking , and death-resurrection of Christ Jesus.
What is it we weave? Our growing and becoming. Of learning to share, to give. Our many ways of serving God’s people and showing ourselves as Living Words. Portress duty, driving, offering a greeting and a smile, reading and studying, volunteering to help those in need. Showing up. And this year, we pray with fervor and hope for the easing of the pandemic.
Day by day, year after year, we weave the ordinary: the way we live together, rub up against each other, forgive each other. Our joys and wonderments, memories, hard times.
Our threads are of countless colors and textures, thin, or lumpy, perhaps more often sisal-rough than white angora—our weft threads and yarns which are held together by those golden warp-threads, strong and shining, holding a grace-pattern that will never unravel—
We weave with Jesus our savior and brother, our garment of life. We put it on, so small and new and promising at our Baptism. We will wear it again someday, clothed in glory, a wedding garment at the Great banquet, The Feast of the Lamb—
The fulfillment of God’s promises in the wonders that await us as we join in the General Resurrection (or the general dance!).
And for now, in these interim, these middling days, we wear it as we are weaving it, in and out, over and under—
We wear it, wrapped around our waist like a towel—
And like Jesus, we kneel and wash feet.