Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gifts on Maundy Thursday

Thursday, March 28, 2013 -- Maundy Thursday

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
     (Book of Common Prayer, p. 956)
Psalms       102 (morning)        142, 143 (evening)
Jeremiah 20:7-11
1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32
John 17:1-11 (12-26)

[Apologies:  I read and commented on the Eucharistic texts instead of the Daily Office texts today]

The Daily Office gives us the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet.  Although I only got to step in there for a moment, yesterday Suzanne led a team of volunteers who washed the feet of some of our guests from Community Meals.  The guests soaked their feet in the warm, medicated water of individual foot spas.  After their feet were washed, they were dried and gently massaged with moisturizer.  I think we gave new socks to each person also.

I remember from participating in past years, occasionally it was remarkable how a person's feet may sometimes say something about some of the hardships of their lives.  I've served people whose feet were worn and calloused.  I've seen injuries that had not healed properly.  There is something intimate and connecting about washing another's feet.  It can be very moving.  It can create a sense of relationship and mutual regard.  For some of our guests, the kind, gentle and generous touch of another's washing their feet is a profound gift of care and respect in a life that may receive less respect than most.  For some of our guests, it is a hard gift to accept.  Often, it is easier to give than to receive.  It takes humility to receive.

Peter was bothered by the reversal of roles when his Master offered to wash his feet.  But almost too eagerly he accepted when Jesus said he must.  I could use some of Peter's desire from time to time.

Jesus used his example to teach his followers to live lives as servants.

We also get some important sections of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians today, passing along the traditions he has received about the Eucharist, the recalling of the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday.  The Eucharist has been the central act of Christian worship since the apostles.  It is the act that constitutes us and nurtures us as the Body of Christ.  Tonight we will remember that night when Jesus took bread and wine and identified them with his very life, and so interpreted his death as a profound gift, an intimate and connecting gift forever.  It is also a gift that takes a bit of humility to receive. 

Although I've shared it on Morning Reflections more than once, and I have used it in Inquirers' Classes and other teaching about the sacrament of the Eucharist, I'd like to offer once more a paragraph from the late theologian John MacQuarrie.  In only a few words he catches some of the profundity that we touch each time we participate in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist sums up in itself Christian worship, experience and theology in an amazing richness.  It seems to include everything. 

It combines Word and Sacrament;  its appeal is to spirit and to sense;  it brings together the sacrifice of Calvary and the presence of the risen Christ;  it is communion with God and communion with man;  it covers the whole gamut of religious moods and emotions. 

Again, it teaches the doctrine of creation, as the bread, the wine, and ourselves are brought to God;  the doctrine of atonement, for these gifts have to be broken in order that they may be perfected;  the doctrine of salvation, for the Eucharist has to do with incorporation into Christ and the sanctification of human life; above all, the doctrine of incarnation, for it is no distant God whom Christians worship but one who has made himself accessible in the world. 

The Eucharist also gathers up in itself the meaning of the Church; its whole action implies and sets forth our mutual interdependence in the body of Christ; it unites us with the Church of the past and even, through its paschal overtones, with the first people of God, Israel; and it points to the eschatological consummation of the kingdom of God, as an anticipation of the heavenly banquet. 

Comprehensive though this description is, it is likely that I have missed something, for the Eucharist seems to be inexhaustible.
                                   John MacQuarrie, Paths of Spirituality

Gifts on Maundy Thursday. 


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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