2018-19 RCL-C Maundy (or Holy) Thursday
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Maundy Thursday: April 18, 2019 • Gospel Text: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Why Isn’t This A Sacrament?
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
If you’re going with the Augustinian definition, a visible form of an invisible grace, then I like the even more concise formulation: a sign of a sacred thing. Or a sacrament is sometimes defined as things where Christ’s promise is connected to a physical sign. No matter how you look at it, the foot washing recorded in John 13 comes real close to a sacrament, and so some traditions celebrate it as such (Moravians, Seventh Day Adventists, True Jesus Church).
Even if they don’t classify it as a sacrament, many traditions still elevate foot washing appropriately, exercising it commensurate to the gravity with which it is practiced here in John. The most recent Pope has even introduced the practice of washing the feet of groups excluded or abused by the wider world: migrants, the poor, prisoners.
Perhaps the most powerful and wide-spread foot washing liturgy practiced in North America is the closing liturgy of Youthworks, a youth mission trips organization. You can watch a great video of interviews with Youthworks staff about their foot washings. All across the nation, all summer long, youth groups wash one another’s feet Thursday evenings as a kind of capstone liturgy for their mission experience.
The reason Youthworks practices foot washing is intriguing. As an ecumenical organization, they wanted to observe some kind of sacramental rite, but found that many of the “actual” sacraments had barriers. Baptism is understood differently in different communions. Not everyone is willing to commune with other traditions. But foot washing? Apparently no tradition has many rules against foot washing. So early in the life of Youthworks, foot washing became the go-to worship rite at the conclusion of a week of service.
It makes a lot of sense in this moment. Often, the groups are dirty, tired, but also transformed, with an expanded sense of what they’re capable of and what the world is like. In a group of new friends, all committed to serving the world in Christ’s name, washing one another’s feet on the “last night” before returning home takes on such incredible emotional poignancy, it can feel truly like that last night with Jesus. “Not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
It’s a great holy moment into which the newly zealous seek immersion, and then Jesus responds with moderation, “Your feet are enough. We keep it simple that we might all be equal here. Servant. Master. Messenger. The sacred thing of which this is a sign: without distinction, love one another.”
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
Historical Exegetical Resources
"Receiving the Sender," "Blessed the Womb," "Leader as Servant," The Jesus Database, an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus. Dr. Gregory C. Jenks, FaithFutures Foundation.
From Wesley's Notes
Tractate 57 (13:6-10//Song of Solomon 5:2,3) (Augustine)
"Holy Thursday - The Footwashing," Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.
Interesting perspective on finding one’s “best self.” An anecdote for change via the Ford Motor Company. Article from Quartz Online.
“Washing Souls by Washing Feet” Interesting and controversial historical reflection. Christianity Today.
Chuck Knows Church: “Foot Washing”
Ministry of videos from the United Methodist Church
Free Current RCL Daily Devotional
More Reading For You
Current RCL Worship Trends
Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Narrator, Peter
Narrator: Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
Peter: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Narrator: Jesus answered,
Jesus: “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Narrator: Peter said to him,
Peter: “You will never wash my feet.”
Narrator: Jesus answered,
Jesus: “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Narrator: Simon Peter said to him,
Peter: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
Narrator: Jesus said to him,
Jesus: “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”
Narrator: For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said,
Jesus: “Not all of you are clean.”
Narrator: After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them,
Jesus: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
Narrator: When he had gone out, Jesus said,
Jesus: “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”