Friday, April 14, 2006

Maundy Thursday

Continuing my holy week observations...

Last night for Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday as I called it up until about 10 years ago), our church held dinners in various people's homes with a small liturgy to create that kind of intimate setting like the Last Supper. I had dinner with several people from church that live in the same part of town as me, people that I mostly already knew I liked. I did meet a couple of new people, including some neighbor friends of the host who are not from our church (but were very fun!). We had snacks while everyone gathered together, did a prayer of confession before the meal and then ate a wonderful potluck of salads, soup and a tender potroast. We then continued the liturgy after dinner, including communion being passed around the table. We ended with dessert and more conversation before everyone said their goodbyes. All in all it was a nice evening, BUT...

It just didn't feel like Holy Thursday. While there were references made to the last supper and Judas' betrayal (including some conversation about the recently translated Gospel of Judas), it felt too much like a social gathering rather than a religious gathering. I don't know what would have made it more "appropriate" or what I was really looking for. We talked about foot washing, but some people were clearly uncomfortable with the idea of exposing their feet to others (which is perhaps part of the point of foot washing?) so we passed on it. Maybe next year.... but I doubt it since it would be the same people involved. Is this part of the problem? Do we cater to people's comfort level so much that we lose significant pieces of our faith heritage?

There's a saying that I love, that Jesus was about "comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable." I have no idea who gets credit for that statement, but I think it's absolutely correct, and yet it seems that today's church is very scared of disturbing anyone - the government, the people in the pews, the church leadership, etc. If people never get puched out of their comfort zones, how will they grow? How will things change and get better?

Granted, there are lines that shouldn't be crossed - discomfort can sometimes be an issue of safety or a warning and defense mechanism. But that is the tension within which the church should reside and for far too long they've been playing it safe. While I don't want to make my friend upset, I do want to push her on the footwashing thing. Nobody that I know of is prouf of their feet and wants to show them off - feet are not aesthetically pleasing to most people. But the act of footwashing has a deeper meaning and her discomfort may actually make it more so. When Jesus washed his disciples' feet, it was a low, humiliating act - for Jesus and for them! They didn't understand, and they were not comfortable, but Jesus explained that it was something he needed to do for them and they would need to do for others. Why aren't we doing it?

1 comment:

Andy B. said...

" felt too much like a social gathering rather than a religious gathering."

Interesting - now I need to ask what's the difference? What makes any social gathering religious? All religious gatherings are social, but not all social gatherings are religious? Hmmm ... good stuff!
Socially yours,
Andy B.