Today is what some call Holy Thursday, Great Thursday, and Maundy Thursday. It is the day the Christian church commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified.
Today confronts me with how much I’m like those men in that borrowed room. I often don’t get what Jesus is up to. I drop the ball. I charge off ahead of him and at times lag behind him. I fail him. I’m not aware of His presence in my midst as much as I should be.
Today also brings two other important things to mind. First it is the second anniversary of my friend Greg’s death. It was sudden, tragic, and left a hole in our hearts and in our small community. He left a legacy of smiles, harassment, loving others, cheering them on, humor, failure, redemption, intensity, service, and running. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought and written about what a great friend he was to me…and many others. I didn’t deserve him. He was gracious when I was too busy to hang out. He consistently checked in on me when I left the ministry. He wanted the best for me and would do anything I asked. I miss him. But I think I miss the chance to respond to his kindness even more.
The other thing that happened on this day was when my friend Joel burst into our living room and washed my feet in front of my family. The church he was serving in had a tradition of having a foot washing service every Maundy Thursday night. We had talked earlier that day about what a challenge it was. I knew he didn’t really want to go and participate. I knew I didn’t either and was glad I didn’t have to. And then I forgot about it until all of a sudden the front door was thrown open. In he came sloshing a basin full of water while juggling a bar of soap and a towel. “Since Jesus did this for his friends, I want to do this for you.” That’s all he said. I sat motionless other than moving my feet at his direction. My children’s eyes unglued from the tv and were fixed upon Joel. We were all stunned. Humbled. Amazed. It was one of those moments that you never forget. It was one of those gifts you can never repay.
God has used many of people in my life but today I specifically thank God for Greg and Joel. Two men who are as imperfect as me yet were willing to be the presence of Jesus many times in my life. They showed me pictures of a different kingdom. They gave me glimpses into a reality that exists right in the middle of the world we’re living in.