Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday - Death is not the end and To Love is To Live Forever

It is a Good Friday tradition in my church that we remember Jesus' crucifixion by symbolically nailing our sins on the cross.  However, we also anticipate his resurrection celebrations on Easter Sunday by receiving our forgiveness right away. Death is not the end. Jesus clearly showed us that. He also showed us how to live - forgiven, free, and full of love - as Pr. Scott and one of our elders Bud demonstrated at Maundy Thursday's Holy Week Communion Service.

At Maundy Thursday communion service Pr. Scott and Bud washed each other's feet and also the feet of those attending who wanted them washed. Did I get my feet washed? No, I was amused by the public ritual of what is usually a private act. Besides, while I've washed others' feet before I don't like my own feet washed even in my own church. I continued to process it, trying to understand my discomfort. I shared with a friend who sent me the link to CNN's story of our new Pope Francis washing the feet of 500 juvenile prisoners. The new Pope is clearly a humble man and a bit of a rebel too, washing as he did the feet of two little girls (one of them a Muslim). It was still unsettling.

I am a bit amused and uncomfortable because while it is admirable that our spiritual leaders are blessed with humility, the question for the majority of us is not about an annual foot-washing. It is really a question of how, then, do we live everyday? And, the answer, as was vividly and unforgettably shown us, is by loving all others as Jesus loved his disciples. I might quibble that Jesus must have known his disciples pretty well after three years and so this was no big deal (since he'd upset so many of their cultural norms anyway). He did. He also knew Judas was going to betray him and Peter would deny him. He still washed their feet. The point is, it is hard, a lot of times, to love the people in our work and social lives. Anyway, that's my first take-away from Lent 2013: To love everybody God has placed in my life like Jesus loved is not easy but every true follower of Jesus is called to it. The second take-away is my Easter identity. I live, born again, in Christ, not just believing but also behaving as if death is not the final end. To live in Christ is to love and to love in Christ is life everlasting.  I live in God's Kingdom, with Jesus, right now, forever. Now, to put this into practice. So help me, and the Body of Christ, dear Creator, Co-Partner of our lives, Father God, in Jesus name I ask. Amen.

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