From Liturgies from Below:
The Stations of the Cross;
“This is a way to enter into the mystery of the gift given to us by Jesus.
This began with early pilgrims wanting to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the cross. In the 1500’s, small replicas or shrines were made depicting the story.
The hope is to fill us with a sense of deep gratitude for what God has done for us in Jesus.”
21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Fifteen Stations in the Passion According to Mark
…here in Bethany, for this evening, recounting in Mark 14, friends are gathered together, affirming fellowship, a supper prefiguring the last supper. The lamps are lit, the women come in and out to check on what is needed; the smells of cooking waft in from the yard; the soft murmur of conversation. For the moment violence and betrayal seem far away. In one of those expansive gestures of fond devotion, an unidentified woman pours “an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard” on Jesus’ head. How sweet to feel a soft hand in his hair as he braces himself for the end!
But his friends and supporters begrudge the gesture, even calculating how much money has been wasted: ‘more than three hundred denarri.” Money that might instead be given to the poor, they point out. This is the mantel of righteous goodness that cloaks a stringy soul. Have they factored into their calculations that he is about to sacrifice his only life, worth a lot more? It has to be a needle in the heart to be faced with this smallness of spirit just at the moment when Jesus must yearn for evidence that he is leaving behind strong, big-hearted disciples and followers who can embody the spirit of his life.
It’s also a sneaky smallness. For this disciples do not grumble openly about the gesture. They scold the woman. But Jesus defends her, not as one would expect, by taking up the question of his deserving. After all, as their Messiah, isn’t he entitled to much more than three hundred denarri worth of perfume? But to respond in this way would be to trade in their currency, to embrace their mentality of nickel-and-diming in order to prove his worth. Instead, he asks simply, “Why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.” Her glorious, tender gesture shows more vision than their righteous calculations. This is the anointment he won’t be getting at his death. For later, when the women come to his tomb to anoint him, they will not find him there.
In fact, this woman without a name has seen something his trained disciples have missed. She has recognized the Messiah, a title that, after all, means “the anointed one.” In Mark, these sidelines figures without names or credentials are often the ones who surprise us.
Be watchful, he has told them, but they are already asleep. They have not been transformed, after all. This is the first of many betrayals to come.”
It Was on a Wednesday
It was on the Wednesday
that they called him a wasteful person.
The place smelled like the perfume department of a big store.
It was as if somebody had bumped an elbow
against a bottle and sent it crashing to the floor,
setting off the most expensive stink bomb on earth.
But it happened in a house,
not a shop.
And the woman who broke the bottle
with no casual afternoon shopper.
She was the poorest of the poor,
giving away the only precious thing she had.
And he sat still
while she poured the liquid all over his head…
as unnecessary as aftershave
on a full crop of hair and a bearded chin.
And those who smelled it,
and those who saw it,
and those who remembered
that he was against extravagance,
called him a wasteful person.
that he also was the poorest of the poor.
And they who had much
and who had given him nothing,
objected to a pauper giving him everything.
Jealousy was in the air
when a poor woman’s generosity
became an embarrassment to their tight-fistedness…
That was on the Wednesday,
when they called him a wasteful person.
(It Was on the Wednesday from Stages On the Way by the Iona Community)
An Excerpt from He Took A Towel by J. Barrie Shepherd
He takes a towel and washes our tired feet,
unbinds the cramping chords that rein us in,
removes the awkward leather of protection and display,
the wool for warmth and decency, then wipes
our weary feet to make them cool and fresh and clean.
Can we accept it? That’s the question.
Can we discover for ourselves tonight the true humility
and genuine affection that comes from being served
by one we worship and adore?
Can we believe, can we even recognize
the amazing revelation that such a simple,
humble, gentle act will yet expose the very heart
of the Divine? Can we find in all of this a God
who sees the tensions, petty vanities, hostilities
that set all apart, who knows the self-erected walls
of pride and fear dividing all his children,
a God who realizing we can only be united, brought together
once again by an act of great self-offering and self-denial,
an act of which not one of us is capable,
performs the necessary deed himself,
strips and girding with a towel
says to you and me, “Your feet are tried, child;
take off your shoes and let me soothe them”?
Then, “This is my example” says the Lord,
“As I have done to you, so you must do.”
To wash the weary, dusty, bruised
and bloodied feet of sisters and of brothers,
of the homeless and the hungry, of family and friends,
of our neighbors and our rivals—
even those whose hands you would wish not to shake.
To wash their weary feet and then to dry them,
Gentle now, with your own garment,
Then finally to welcome and to seat them,
every hungry, hurting, lost and lonely child of God,
to set them cleansed, forgiven, loved,
restore around a table that is spread,
around this holy table where the Lord of all reigns at his royal feast.
So let us learn to greet our neighbor with the touch
of peace, the touch the cleanses, soothes,
refreshes, and brings life since it is the peace of God
we pass and not our own.
Let us turn to one another in the Lord,
and thus turning become partners,
welcome partners for the feast he has prepared;
the feast at which, so long ago,
he took a towel and washed their dusty feet.
By Ruth Burgess, A Story from Birmingham, From Eggs and Ashes
He was only a little lad was Leonard-
Well, he was five, nearly,
And he had a big brother Dean, who was eight.
And they both lived round the corner from me.
It was Maundy Thursday,
And a few us were celebrating in a friend’s flat;
And we’d got to the bit in the story
Where Jesus washed the disciple’s feet.
We sometimes acted things out.
We said it was to help the kids
Understand the story,
But most of the grown-ups like to do it too.
The washing-up bowl
Was full of warm water
And soapy bubbles,
And Leonard has been invited
To wash his brother’s feet.
It was a task
Undertaken with utter seriousness
And with laughter,
And infectious joy.
Wash his feet?
Soap him up to the knees more like!
Cup and splash the water over his ankles,
And tickled him under his toes.
Bath time had nothing on this!
Leonard had bubbles dancing in all directions
And lather running back
Down his arms
Into his turned-up sleeves.
And he followed up the washing
With a thorough drying,
With fluffy towels.
All the way down
from the knees to the toes.
Later came shared bread rolls,
Previously kneaded by small fists
And baked in the oven,
And a common mug of juice
That had been tramples and squeezed
From purple grapes.
When I sit sometimes
In other gatherings-
Where it is hard to
On a Maundy Thursday
To have one foot
Gently washed and dried
By a kneeling priest-
The story of Dean and Leonard,
And the washing and drying