Thea, your son, on the night before he died, sealed a new covenant in bread and wine, his body and blood. Teach us to remember his covenant with you in the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine. Amen.
"Maundy" comes from "Mandatum," which refers to Jesus' mandate to his friends to wash the feet of others just as he washed theirs at the last supper before his death. The act of washing a dinner-guest's feet was normally reserved for a slave, and it meant coming into contact with whatever a first-century Jewish person in Jerusalem might have stepped in or on--dirt, feces, bugs, waste-water, nettles, anything. The host of a dinner wouldn't make his own hands impure by touching the unclean feet of his guests. And yet. Nowadays, folks who are planning to have their feet washed during the ritual enactment of Jesus' foot-washing take pity on those who wash feet. They wash their own feet in advance, maybe even manicure them, making sure every last trace of "ewww" is gone. I might have done this, too, but in the midst of preparing to sing many new-to-me hymns for liturgy, I forgot. At my parish, anyone can have her feet washed. As the foot-washing ritual got underway, it looked as though everyone was choosing to do this. So despite my dirty feet, I went forward. Exposing my feet, allowing the clean hands of another to wash them, was humiliating. And in my humiliation, a new gateway for grace manifested. What a gift to receive the blessing of the holy other who beheld my uncleanness and loved me anyway. Isn't this receiving and giving the entirety of the Christian call?