Friday, March 29, 2013

Freely Give, Freely Receive: Maundy Thursday Musings

Matthew 10:8 - Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
If you read my last daybook entry, you remember that I was pondering over attending my first Maundy Thursday service:
I am pondering... on the upcoming Maundy Thursday Celebration. This will be the first time I’ve ever celebrated Maundy Thursday (the commemoration of the Last Supper and Jesus washing the feet of His disciples). I am thankful to be learning more about the holy days of the liturgical calendar (I’m still really foggy about Advent, but there’s always next time). However, the only thing bothering me about the celebration is that the leadership of the church is doing the foot washing. Now, we had foot washings at my home church, so the concept isn’t new. But, I really feel uncomfortable with having the leaders of my church wash my feet. My friend, Angela, told me it was a pride issue. I don’t see how. I don’t think that I’m too good to have them was my feet. Quite the opposite; I feel that they are too good to be washing my feet. Position wise, it feels all wrong. I should be washing their feet; that is my place. I should be serving them, not them serving me. I don’t know how (or if) I’m going to do this. I don’t see how that is pride……

I was in such a quandary about this that I e-mailed the Pastor about it.  He suggested that I read the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 13 before I came to the service.  I did, but I still wasn’t convinced this was the right thing for me to do.  Then the thought came, what would I have done had I been at the Last Supper with the other disciples?  Well, for starters, I wouldn’t have let Jesus wash my feet UNLESS he commanded me to.  I felt as if He were saying, “Well I am ordering you to do this.”  So, last night I got in the car and headed toward the church. 
When I got there one of the lead ministers at the church greeted me, gave me a paper with the order of service on it, and said that if I wanted to, I could start with him washing my feet.  Everything inside me screamed NO!  But I said (only loud enough for him to hear) “sure.”
Along with running for five minutes straight for the first time, this was the most difficult five minutes of my year so far.  My hands were literally shaking as he washed my feet.  I was so embarrassed for him that I couldn’t even look at him.  Then the tears started.  I finally started getting an understanding of what this all meant.  When he finished, he actually thanked me for giving him the privilege of serving me in this way.  All I could do was hug him and tearfully say thank you. 
I moved on to the prayer station where I was to read several scriptures from the Psalms, John, and I Corinthians 11 and to pray and prepare my heart to receive Holy Communion.  I read, and cried, and prayed, and cried, and took Communion, and cried some more.  I was “all tore up” by the time I finished up and went to the parking lot.   As I was driving home, I got the answer to why this ceremony was so emotionally intense for me.

Matthew 23:11 says, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”  I’m so used to serving that it has become a point of pride for me.  From the very beginning of my walk with Christ, I was taught how important service is, but not taught so much about how important being a gracious receiver is.  Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  I’m really good at doing the first part, but lousy at receiving the second part.  Why?  It goes back to an old attitude I still haven’t conquered;  I don’t feel comfortable letting people love and help me.  I don’t feel worthy of their love and concern.  It’s like I haven’t done enough to earn it.  It’s a combination of pride, false humility, and low self-esteem.  Weird combination, I know, but the position of gracious receiver feels wrong.  It's because I’m the one on my mind instead of God or others.  My attitude is: surely God wouldn’t have me receive service.  My only place is to serve.  However, I’m not fulfilling God’s call if I never allow myself to receive.  Being one who constantly gives yet never graciously receives leaves me empty, alone, and depressed, which, in turn, prompts behaviors that lead to self-medication and relapse.  Not good.
So, I guess my next step is to continue to learn to be a gracious receiver, be honest about what I need, and not be afraid to go for what I want.  Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful lesson.

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