before i dive into a different holy week post, i wanted to share something important related to yesterday’s easter hope(less). i definitely didn’t write it for everyone. many are in a really good place related to easter and it’s okay to enjoy it! i’ve noticed that some of us can have survivor’s guilt when it comes to faith. i just want to honor this important thing: we all have our own unique stories that are unfolding in different ways. the best thing we can do is be as true and honest to those stories no matter what they look like and be safe enough to honor others’ as well.
with that, i wanted to share a reprise of a post i wrote 3 easters ago for maundy thursday. even though i can say i have inched toward receiving better, i hope over time it can grow in depth and freedom. i am guessing i might not be the only one who’s better at giving than receiving?
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a new command i give you: love one another. as I have loved you, so you must love one another. by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” – john 13:34-35
today is maundy thursday. in latin, maundy means “command”, reflecting the commands that Jesus gave his disciples in the upper room the night he was betrayed. one of my favorite passages of scripture is john 13-17. i come back to it a lot, and especially love the story in john 13 of Jesus and the passage in john 13 of Jesus washing the disciples feet as a powerful example of what love looks like. i am often reminded how it’s really not that hard to wash other people’s feet. i have done it before in my christian experience, and while beautiful, it is not that difficult.
on the other hand, having someone else wash mine–well that’s a whole different story. at the start of the refuge we had a foot washing as part of mercy boot camp, an intensive the refuge hosted. i can say that it was brutally hard for me to soak in the love and sacrifice of my friends as they washed my feet. i will never forget the experience.
i am also more convinced than ever that for most of us, it’s way easier to give than receive. i know it is for me. it’s easy to be in the driver’s seat, the place where we are somehow “helping” or “loving” someone else., the place where we get to offer our love, our time, our resources on someone’s behalf. and i do believe a big reason why the “missional” conversation is popular right now in the wider church is that it is calling out God’s image in us that many modern systems have been neglecting in terms of spiritual formation–to love with more than just words. to enter into the places no one else wants to go and offer hope and help in really tangible ways. and of course, i’m not saying that’s easy.
but i definitely think receiving is much harder than giving.
this powerful story of Jesus washing the disciples feet and calling us to do the same reminded me of how much humility it requires to let someone else wash ours. to humble ourselves and let others’ “good” in, too. to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to receive. to respect and recognize what a huge barrier pride, control, and power really are.
yeah, giving is important. serving is important. sacrificial love is important. and on special days like this it seems easy to get convicted by all the focus on sacrificial love and think maybe i just need to give more.
but what if the greater sacrifice is to let someone else wash our feet, instead of us washing theirs?
to receive love instead of give it?
to be like the disciples, and let the least likely person in the room pass love on to us?
true community, true love, is about washing each other’s feet. loving others. letting others love us. the missional conversation is not complete with mainly focusing on giving and not teaching about the power of receiving. receiving from those that we think only need us. receiving from others who are different from us. receiving from those just like us. receiving from the least & the last.
and yeah, one of the prettiest parts of this story is a reminder that we can’t parse it all out and keep God and people separate. i have no doubt that part of loving God is letting God love us through letting people love us. yikes, that’s a lot of letting love in.
maybe that’s the hardest part. maybe that’s why Jesus made this such a big deal. maybe that’s why most of us don’t learn this in churches because most leaders don’t know how to receive and our human default is self-protection. many of us only know how to give. because it’s safer. easier. far more comfortable.
receiving from people, receiving from God are not my strong points. and in these moments of intentional reflection and a steeping in the gospel stories i am painfully aware of how truly annoying the ways of Jesus really are when they get under your skin.
so today, this maundy thursday 2013 i am grateful for Christ’s reminder of what love looks like.
not just giving, but humbly receiving. too.