I had never been to a Maundy Thursday service before, and since I hope to be a priest officiating at that service one day, I felt it behooved me to go. After all, we have Spring Break during Holy Week so there was no conflict.
The premise of the service is to remember the night of the Last Supper when Jesus washed his disciples feet.
I wasn’t sure how it would work. At the beginning of the service, Barkley said he would tell us what to do when that part of the service began. We had prayers, the lessons, and then he stood up and explained that there would be two chairs placed up front. We would form two lines and the first person would sit and have their feet washed, then the washer would sit and the next person in line would wash their feet.
I was slightly apprehensive at the idea of washing a stranger’s feet and having them wash mine.
A frail older man was in front of me, he was the first in line on my side and I was right beside him. As he tried to get on his knees to wash the feet of the choir member who was waiting for him, he seemed to totter and then abruptly fell backwards landing on his left butt cheek. Immediately men swarmed around him to lift him back to his feet. It happened very fast. Two men stood at his side and helped him get down and then get up. Then it was my turn to wash his feet. That was very humbling. I was worried about my foot washing skills. I also realized that I was wearing pants that were all wrong for this exercise. They were a tad large and I KNOW my underwear was visible to the man behind me. Eeep. The older man seemed happy with my skills though and then I sat and the man behind me washed my feet. The water was warm, my feet were cold, and he was not stingy with it. Nice. You experience both giving and receiving and importantly I believe the service demonstrates in a powerful way that it feels better to give than receive.