Thursday, April 5, 2007

Holy Thursday

This Holy/Maundy Thursday the church mirrors the Jewish celebration of a rich history of remembrance. Through the pasach/passover, Exodus 12, one recalls the promises of a God who, through a meal, assures a people by promising them an end to their oppression and slavery. The meal, a common-unity, provides sustenance of life, holding on and being held, into a future that what God says will happen, does.

This same meal Jesus celebrated some 1,200 years later. Through a guy who wrote a book to some community of faith around 90 a.d., whose name happened to be John, we hear that Jesus, while sharing this passover meal, mandates (hence the word 'maundy') his disciples to a new of being in the world. What is that mandate? It is to love. Simple enough, huh? But what makes his mandate particularly interesting is the notion that he ties with it "a new commandment I give to you."

What do you mean Jesus? A new commandment? This isn't a new commandment, it's actually a reiterated commandment from Leviticus (an older book that lays out the laws of the Israelite people). What exactly makes it new?

Jesus speaks about loving as I have loved you. Jesus demonstrates this later in the story by washing his disciple's feet, an action typically done upon entry into a home by either oneself or the slave of the household. It was never done by the host! And so this night, I wonder what it means that Jesus' mandate is new in so far as it means that, initially, we don't learn to love, but rather learn to be loved. I'm often curious, which is easier, to love or be loved? My conclusion has been that what is easier is to love, in some sense, because it is on our own, albeit fractured, terms. While being loved creates an even more vulnerable position of having to be at the other's disposal and loved in the way that the other desires. The question still lingers in me...

Perhaps this night, a night that is Holy ('set apart') Thursday, we reflect together on these words..."a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you."

Lord Jesus, help me to learn the depths of what it means to be loved by you, that someday, I might be able to reflect and extend some semblance of that love to others with generosity, without judgment, freely and joyously. Amen.

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