If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
…. love is shown in deeds.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, … it remains with you, and will be in you.
… the holy spirit, or the “good spirit” as Ignatius would call it? For Ignatius, the feelings aroused by the good spirit (and also the bad spirit) help a person discern. The good spirit’s advice brings “consolation” – feelings of peace, joy, and an increase of hope, faith and love.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
… but he will be “indwelling” rather than coming in the sense of “parousia”, the second coming. Jesus keps telling the disciples he’s leaving soon, and is trying to comfort them, but if I was one of them, I think I’d be worried, angry, hurt, and I’m not sure an amorphous advocate would takes his place for me.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.
“Rise, let us be on our way.”
The ideal of humbleness is expressed in selfless service. The ideal of service is expressed in humbleness. Jesus demonstrates this in the timeless tale of foot washing. In the same spirit of love and respect that he shows them, Jesus is inspiring his disciples to serve one another, and all people, regardless of their status or condition. This mirrors God – yes? God created the water in the well, the indwelling spirit within, bathing each of us with this Grace, even though we may not be aware of it, and regardless of our status, condition, or conviction. By washing the feet even of Judas whom Jesus seems to know will betray him, Jesus demonstrates how this ideal includes those that may seem like enemies – he serves and ministers to others without discriminating whether they are friends or foe.
When Peter objects to the washing, Jesus emphasizes the importance not just of physical cleansing, but also of spiritual cleansing. In this, Jesus suggests that we are not all spiritually clean. It would appear obvious that he is referring to Judas, predicting his betrayal, but I wondered further about what it means to be ‘spiritually clean’. I have been considering this phrase, and it seems to me that it has to do with being pure somehow, in having clean or clear vision, clean minds and hearts, and clean actions. Perhaps when we are spiritually clean we are clear windows to God: open, receptive, transparent, reflective of light, and when our feet are clean we travel a pure path – responsibly, in service to God by serving others.
Like Crystal, and like Simon Peter, I, too, could imagine my own resistance to having my body cleansed by Jesus – someone I admire so much. Indeed, this feels like tremendous intimacy, having Jesus this close to my body, touching me in ways I don’t let anyone else touch me. But as in the prayer Crystal posted, envisioning this intimacy with Jesus in this way allows him into our most personal zones, indeed further into our hearts.
When I took that online retreat, we were to imagine oursleves as disciples and contemplate Jesus washing our feet at the last supper. It was really hard for me to let him do that! There was a sample prayer at the site that sort of expresses how I felt about it …
Please, Lord, not my feet! They are so smelly and dirty and my nails are ragged. I like to keep them hidden in my sandals, not exposed to anyone, especially you. But you are so gentle as you take my feet from where I have tucked them under my garment and wash them clean. The moment you bend deeply over my newly-washed feet and kiss them, I realize that the places where I can let you love me the most deeply are the places where I am embarrassed, the parts I want to hide from others, my weaknesses.
How do we take such an overtly symbolic act as foot-washing and bring it into our faith lives?
Many churches make foot-washing a part of their Easter services in one way or another. I believe the Pope washes someone’s feet once a year. Bury it in liturgy. Make it safe.
What it calls us too is servant leadership. What it calls us to is a servant church. Most of us don’t want that even when we say we do.
Making yourself everyone else’s servant works — at least in theory — if everyone else makes themselves your servant too. It leads to reciprocal service. The church or Quaker meeting becomes a kind of mutual aid society. I have seen that in moments of grace. A person sits in the pew sobbing and a stranger’s arm reaches out in comfort. An envelope arrives in the mail with a cheque.
But sustained unreciprocated servanthood runs into problems. It creates expectations of service and the inequality becomes embedded. Resentment on the part of the servant. Or helping becomes more about meeting your own ego needs. Refusing help when it is offered or giving help when the recipient doesn’t want it.
How to capture the best spiritual insights of a servant church without all the baggage and covert abuse? As the poet said, Aye, there’s the rub.
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, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
Jesus said to him, “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.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, Not all of you are clean.
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “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. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9) I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
Just wanted to drop a message by — thanking folks for their patience and their prayers — especially as they didn’t know what was going on. I’m still not sure I do.
In any event, my wife is out of work — a week and a half after I started my new job and things were starting to look up. Time to fall back and punt as they say in football. Although the one time I drop kicked a foot ball it hit too high on my instep went straight up and came back down on my noggin. I hope the metaphor is kinder than the material reality.
I’ll post the next scripture passage tomorrow, God willing.
I have a few personal things I need to take care of. Won’t be around until after the weekend. Feel free to carry on without me.
If you’re the intercessionary type — you might remember my wife Colleen in your prayers. She’s having a rough time and needs somebody around.
Crystal — could you drop by Writers BBS and post something semi-provocative just to keep the forum going? Talk at ya soon.
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me … I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
Some people take this passage to mean Jesus is “the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon” but when I read it, I think of the trinity … father, son and holy spirit – one person. Larry mentioned in his post that he doesn’t pray to Jesus. I don’t think I do that, exactly … I pray through Jesus, to God, with the help of the holy spirit … but mostly I just hang around with Jesus and talk to him, appreciating the differences between him and God, relying on the sameness of him and God.
There are some references to the trinity of persons in the NT …
Matthew 28:19 – Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.
2 Corinthiians 13:13 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you.
… but I think the crucial test of the trinity is in experience. God and his love for us might seem so mysterious and “other”, except for Jesus … God gave his love’s expression a human body so we could experience it in ways that are familiar. Fr. Marsh once wrote on Trinity Sunday …
We’ve all been raised to believe that God loves us but somehow we tend to believe that all the risk and all the feeling are on our side … that God is so big and self-sufficient that nothing we do can really make a difference to God—really hurt or really delight. But today’s feast says the opposite and invites us into its mystery. Have you ever loved someone so much that you feel you’ve lost your self to them? That all your future depends on them? That your heart wakes or breaks with theirs? If you’ve known that pain, that daring, that delight then know now that God looks upon you with just that kind of love …
… thanks to Jesus, the moon.