Jesus Mafa Foot Washing

Many Christians are missing the Eucharist as they are staying at home in order to break the chain of Covid19 and to save lives. Many are feeling this more strongly for Maundy Thursday.

I hope to reflect more on this once we are in the Easter Season. For now, I want to offer some household resources for the Triduum – these Holy Three Days.

Maundy Thursday

Here I want to suggest three other practices that may have been crowded out by the emphasis on the Eucharist. Why not try these on Maundy Thursday? ‘Maundy’ connects with ‘mandate’ – three commandments that Jesus gave on the night before he died:

  • bread and wine received with thanksgiving in Christ’s anamnesis (ἀνάμνησις)
  • washing feet (John 13:14-15)
  • loving others (John 13:34)
    as well as these three, there is the tradition of an hour watching and praying (Matthew 26:40)

In your household, this Maundy Thursday why not focus on washing feet, loving others, and spending at least an hour watching and praying with Jesus?

The minimum reading you could read together as a household is John 13:1-17,31b-35
You can, of course, read the whole chapter: John 13
And I heartily encourage you to read the whole of John’s last-meal-of-Jesus account: John 13:1-17:26
You will notice – there’s no mention of the bread-and-wine story which underpins the Eucharist!
Different people can read a portion, and then someone else takes up the reading. You can stop at any points, discuss, pray, have silence, sing – whatever works in your context.

For washing each other’s feet in your household, one person can say words like:

On this night Jesus set an example for the disciples
by washing their feet, an act of humble service.
Therefore, let us wash each other’s feet.
As our feet are washed,
let us remember that strength and growth in God’s reign
come by lowly service such as this.

Some time in this household service, there can be prayers. Again, different people can lead. You might write prayers beforehand, or extemporise, or use or adapt the following:

On this holy night (day), let us pray for the church and all humankind.

Servant God, on this night Jesus washed his disciples’ feet: may we follow this example of love and service.

God of love
grant our prayer.

God of compassion, on this night Jesus prayed for those who would believe through the message of the disciples: may we so live what we proclaim that all may come to know your saving love.

God of love
grant our prayer.

God  our companion, we pray for those unable to eat at the Lord’s Table or at any other table, for those who betray and for those betrayed, and for all innocent victims.

God of love
grant our prayer.

God of hope, remember all those in need, especially all affected by Covid19, and also those we silently hold before you now …

God of love
grant our prayer.

Holy God,
in these extraordinary days,
you offer us your great compassion;
grant that we may work with you to fulfil our prayers,
and to love and serve others as Christ has loved us;
this we ask through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) As people suffer, and charities struggle with dropping funds and increasing needs, your household can discuss which charity or charities you could give to, and together go online and make a donation or donations. Many households are saving money currently, that can be given to others. Other households, of course, are suffering a loss of income.

As a household, you could spend an hour in silent prayer with Jesus in Gethsemane. If (some in) your household struggles with an hour of silent prayer, you could punctuate periods of silence with periods of reading, singing, praying aloud. The longer reading suggested above, John 13:1-17:26, could be a resource for this.

Good Friday

Not celebrating Eucharist on Good Friday has a strong history. From the traditional Good Friday service, your household can use or adapt
The Ministry of the Word
The Solemn Intercessions and
The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus

Easter Vigil

Again, from the traditional Great Vigil of Easter, your household can use or adapt
The Service of Light – use a candle as your Easter fire
The Ministry of the Word
Renewal of Baptism

Christian Passover Seder?

Especially this year, with our Jewish brothers and sisters also in the same situations as Christians are, and with the Jewish Passover falling at the same time as the Christian Triduum, we need extra sensitivity towards each other. I want to emphasise that celebrating a “Christian Passover Seder”, say on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), confuses Christian understanding. Christianity applies the Jewish passover paradigm not to Maundy Thursday but to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not Maundy Thursday that, by itself, celebrates the “Christian Passover”. If you want to read more about this, start here.

The Easter Collect

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may share Christ’s resurrection]

pause

Almighty God,
through your Son Jesus Christ
You overcame death and opened to us
the gate of everlasting life;
grant us so to die daily to sin,
that we may evermore live with him
in the joy of his resurrection:

who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

Commentary on this collect.

Daily Prayer

I underscore again, that this unprecedented time may be God’s invitation and challenge to us to revitalise the Daily Office (Daily Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Prayer of the Church) – such an important (and often neglected) part of Christian life. Let us not miss what God is giving us by focusing on what, for a short while, is being taken away. I intend to write about this again in the reflection I mentioned at the start (that I will do in the Easter Season), but, I have said before, the Eucharist is the jewel in the crown. The crown in which the jewel is set is Daily Prayer (the Daily Office). Wonderful as the triumph and revitalisation of the Eucharist is (“The Lord’s own service for the Lord’s own people on the Lord’s own day”), this one hour a week is being asked to bear what it was never intended to sustain (prayer, meditation, teaching, fellowship,…). These days when we are at home – for so many without the Eucharist – are a time when we can recover and rediscover and renew Daily Prayer. Again I stress: Let us not miss what God is giving us by focusing on what, for a short while, is being taken away. The Daily Office might be a central part of your household’s devotions this Triduum – and a launchpad for that continuing when we are through these days. You can pray Daily Prayer simply as a household, or be part of any of the online Daily Prayer groups and formats that have sprung up in this new world.

*****

Coronavirus solitude self-isolation and spirituality
Streaming services, online spiritual resources in coronavirus times
New Zealand Prayer Book Daily Prayer
NZ in lockdown
Covid 19 moves churches into the Third Millennium
Spiritual Communion
Carthusians Covid-19 and Communion
Learning from Hermits in a Covid19 World

A Video of the Life of Jesus

The stop-motion video of the life of Christ, The Miracle Maker, can be watched here:
Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5

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