Reflections for

Maundy Thursday, Mar 29, 2018

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35



Consider its extravagant fertility! How
dependably it breeds itself in the marrow
to fill again what drains away, the rivers of bright
platelets singing in their arterial dark

until a simple incursion, some sharp sever.
A jag. An abrupt disclosure as our secret fluid
spills against its will—whether a startle or a slow
seepage, a prompt to remember our fragility.

When a bold splash on a lintel in Egypt signaled
safety, a lifeguard against the death angel, we didn’t
have to die; it was only a lamb, and a quick throat cut
that flooded us into another life.

“His blood be upon us” echoes in that old yell of
rejection. We can yield instead to be
washed in grace, the scandal of mercy
acting as God’s unlikely laundry.

Today the cup calls us to the altar rail, transfuses us
as we drink deep, a stain that blots old grimes
and dyes us with itself.


Foot washing

The congregation of pilled sweaters gathers.
The least of them my brethren, their terrible feet unpeel
from comfortable shoes. They come to be healed by my father
through my father who kneels before them with a bowl a monk threw
on a potter’s wheel near the rocks of the Dry Salvages.
Among the fusty velvet pews, timelessness collides
with time incarnate in human weakness, raw skin, yellow corns.
Here, among us, there are so few strong among us,
so many reeking needs, such fervent despair,
I long to bare my baby teeth, to lunge at the wretched.
God save us from those who wish to be saved in this suburban church,
its reenactment intended to puncture time
while the hollow chime of tennis balls from the next door courts
rings with the sacrilege of a Sunday plough.


Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 the Consultation on Common Texts. Used by permission.