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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ordinary Grace

On this night, what is ordinary becomes extraordinary, what is everyday becomes holy.  Jesus washes our feet as a servant, and makes us servants to the world; he feeds us with bread and wine and we are filled with his presence and grace to be his presence and grace to the world.

Vicar Erik Doughty, Maundy Thursday; text: John 13:1-17, 31b-35; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

It took me about 36 ordinary years and one very nervous day before I let my feet be washed on Maundy Thursday.

And that day was full of all the ordinary excuses and concerns. My feet are FEET. They look a little odd. People don’t very often see them. What if they’ve sweated? What if my toes are weird. What socks should I wear? What shoes should I wear? Someone is going to wash my FEET?!

And then someone washed my feet. And it was both incredibly ordinary and very powerful. It was not what I expected. It turned out to be an act of love, of service, of community. Something gracious happened.

The first time I baked bread for Eucharist I watched Pastor Crippen with it at this altar and marveled, amazed that something so ordinary -- bread! From stuff I got at Byerly’s or the co-op and put together in my ordinary kitchen, you know? The ordinary bread I made became Christ for us, grace and strength for us. Outwardly, I acted the part of a good liturgical servant. Inwardly, my mouth was hanging open in amazement. It was NOT what I expected. Something gracious happened.

This night is just as ordinary and just as amazing, for the disciples and for us. Disciples, confused and stunned, fed and washed. They are in chaos. An ordinary execution is about to happen.

But tonight is not about anxiety for us. Tonight is about doing love and grace, doing what our Master Christ models for us. And that is: To wash one another’s feet. Have the humility and vulnerability to LET someone wash your feet. Wash somebody else’s feet. Know the grace, the servant life, the love in that act. God is present in that ordinary act.

And eat simple wheat bread; drink ordinary wine. Christ and grace and forgiveness and love is present in that ordinary act.

And love one another in such an honest, such an ordinary, such a real and visible way that others notice. It is the best evangelism in the world; and more importantly, it is Christ’s new commandment tonight. Love one another in every ordinary act.

For Christ will take all our ordinary sins from this footwashing, from this meal, from this community.

Dying on the cross, he will give his life for you,
his love for you,
his purity for you,
his own body for you.

For you and for this neighborhood, for you and for this nation, for you and for this whole dusty-footed, hungry world.

On the ordinary cross, something gracious is about to happen.

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