Chaplain’s Devotional for Maundy Thursday

April 9, 2020

Devotion provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels 

“And during supper Jesus... 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.”

Jesus taught his disciples before he died the meaning of true service by kneeling down at their dirty feet and tenderly washing and drying them.  Talk about awkward. Peter didn’t want the one he called the Messiah to get on his knees before him and wash his calloused, soiled feet, but when he protested Jesus told him that he would have no share with him unless he did. So Peter said, “Well then, not only my feet but my hands and my head!”

After Jesus had finished and returned to the table, he asked his disciples, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me your Lord and Teacher – 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.”  I have heard the frustration of many who feel like they are not able to serve any more because of their bodies’ limitations.  Serving is at the heart of being a follower of Christ, so how do you find meaning and purpose when you can no longer serve in the way you used to?  I have to tell you a story about my dear mother-in-law who died several years ago.  She lived a life of service to her family, to her friends, to Christ through her work in her church. But in her seventies she began to have more and more difficulty being mobile.  Eventually, she spent her days in a chair in her den, unable to get up on her own.  But whenever we would come by to see her, she would say, “What can I get for you?  Can I make you a tomato sandwich?”  Now she knew and we knew that she could not get up and make that sandwich, but we also knew that she still needed to feel like she could serve us.  And she did.  It was her attitude of service that came through and blessed us every time. See, service is more than an action, it is an attitude, a way of relating to others that shows we care about their needs no matter who they are and we are not above reaching out to them no matter in small, medium or large ways.

In fact one way we get trapped is in thinking we have to do big things to be of any value and so if we can’t do those things, then we can’t do anything at all.  What I know is that it is most usually the small things that people do for me that lift up my day.  God can take small acts of service – asking with genuine interest how someone is, blessing him or her with the words “God bless you”, writing a note or an encouraging email – these are the things that give others strength and reassurance. 

Prayer:  Gracious God, may you bless us with a spirit of service so we may bless others.  Amen.