Maundy is taken from the Latin word, which means “command” or “mandate.” This is the night Jesus celebrated the final Passover with his disciples. On it he gave them the command: love one another.
I invite you to read the story of what happened in the Upper Room before coming to worship tonight. But consider this, He told us to love one another, after He showed us how to love. Jesus showed His love by washing the disciples’ dirty feet (a job only held by servants) and by feeding them bread and wine (which would become symbols of his broken body, blood and new covenant made between God and his people). Too often we jump to serving another to prove our love. But tonight, to understand serving another with the love of Christ, you have to let Love serve you first. Jesus’ kind of love and service is messy, vulnerable, and humble. Before the cross, he knelt down and took the disciples feet in his hands and scrubbed them clean. He probably stood up covered in mud. He sat alongside his betrayers, one who would deny him and the other who would run. But he stayed and shared a meal. Then he took bread and broke it, willing to still offer his body to be broken for them. He took a cup and spoke of his blood that would be spilled and a new covenant made for them to be right with God.
Then after those messy, vulnerable acts he let them come with him as he spent his last moments wrestling with God. Most of us would have asked for a reprieve, some time to be alone. But he lets them come, knowing they might let him down. Love one another as I have loved you, means something more when you look at it through those actions, yet less the cross.
Loving God, you showed us how to love one another and yet our way of defining such love falls so short of the actions of Jesus. Those words: messy, vulnerable, sacrificial, mean so much we often hold that kind of love only for those closest to us, who deserve it the most. But you loved everyone in this way, even those who would turn from you and even us. Wash us tonight. Fill us with your love in bread and cup. May we see others and find ways to love them that will leave us muddy as well, trusting that when we do, you will continue to wash us clean. Amen.