by Rev Deacon Jeffrey Boyce
On this day, Maundy Thursday, we recognize the importance of Servant Ministry. Jesus shows us this, he washes the feet of his Disciples. During this time, most people wore sandals. Feet got very dirty as they walked around. This is one layer of servitude. Jesus says “You call me teacher and Lord…”
Another layer is the humble nature in which Jesus washed their feet. He insists that he will wash their feet, even Peter. In my first year at Iona/Olympia school, Bishop Greg would visit occasionally. That year we met each month, including during Lent. In the first cohort we had an interesting mix of people. Most were postulants for the Deaconate, with a couple of people working towards local produced priests.
Bishop Greg announced that after the Evening Prayer he would spend some time with us. He had chosen to hang around with us and preside at our Sunday Eucharist. So on Saturday night after evening prayer, he washed the feet of his Postulants. He took this action in all piety, solemnity, and warmth. He showed us how to do it. Bishop Greg showed what humble servitude looks like, and what servitude feels like. His love of the Deacon Community was always felt. He didn’t have any more visits with us, but our collective memory of that night was one for the books, it is remembered well. Jesus wants his disciples to be the servants of the “Church”, the people, and the world.
There is confusion between the Synopists and St. John over the timing of the Last Supper. Although, whether it was part of the Jewish Passover or not a part of. This is not the important part of the Last Supper. This particular event had many facets to it. Many are not in the Gospel reading. Such as; the announcement of the traitor, the forgiveness of the sins of the Disciples, the question of who is the greatest among the Disciples (no one is greater than another), the pressing for Jesus to claim that he is the Messiah (which he does not). Jesus has instituted the sharing of the bread and wine in what will be called the Holy Eucharist. That is one of our sacraments, Baptism is the other as they are the only sacraments instituted by God through Jesus and is spoken in the Bible. The Last Supper was also, the last opportunity for Jesus to share with his Disciples his thoughts, desires and aspirations. He knows what is going to happen, and when. Jesus is preparing himself for his ordeal, his passion journey.
My journey to Holy Orders was long and confusing at times. Early on I was involved in helping with the Nourish Mobile Food Bank (occasionally I still help); it was while I was working at the Mobile Food Bank that I started meeting may people who were unsheltered. It was about this time that Associated Ministries were starting up their Community Quarterly Meetings to bring homelessness to the churches. I still go to their meetings as I believe Faith Communities are an important part of helping those who don’t have a voice. Being unsheltered is a difficult way to live. The concerns of the unsheltered are mostly dealing with, where is my shelter going to be tonight? where is there food & water? where are the bathrooms or where am I going? On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this is the bottom row. Safety, and other higher needs have to wait to be satisfied until their basic needs are met.
I now work directly with the Tacoma/Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. This group is open to all and has been instrumental in getting the City of Tacoma and Pierce County to make changes in how they approach dealing with and working with homeless populations. I do not represent the unsheltered people as much as I teach the political bodies to listen to the unsheltered, as they have much to teach.
In St John’s Gospel, we find him talking about a new commandment. We’ve read about it in Matthew 22:40:
“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.”
What a message this is. We hear in the opening prayers to Rite One. I think it should be part of Rite Two also. But no one asked me. I have asked myself why so many Christians seems to miss this commandment.
What is so difficult about loving our neighbors, all of them? God made us all in God’s image and likeness (Genesis). Knowing this, why is it so difficult to love others. We are all part of the Jesus movement whether we know it or not. We are the Episcopal version of the Jesus Movement. Bishop Curry says so. Knowing this can help us see the love of God in everyone we connect with. God’s love permeates all things, all people, and all of our lives. We are all God’s people, this is why God incarnated into man as Jesus, so that Jesus would teach us about reconciliation, forgiveness, and our place with him in heaven. Forgiveness may be the greatest gift that we can give to another Child of God. All of us are sinners, and through reconciliation we are forgiven of our sins. This is a blessing and gift from our Almighty Father, brought to us by our Lord Jesus the Christ, as his son incarnates in man. I will continue to work at loving all my fellow children of God. We all come from the same source. We are all one. One with God. The death and resurrection of Jesus brings us together in the love of God. Amen