Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Eucharistic Prayers & Post Comm. Collects)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM



April 4, 2023 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills

Holy Thursday/ABC (04/06/2023), (alt. Readings): Exodus 12:1-14; Ps. 116:12-19; 1 Cor.: 11:23-32; John 13:1-17, 31b-35.WASH FEET

Washed feet & hands, Jesus said [to Peter], “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” (v. 10)

Jesus admits, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand” (Jn. 13:7). This evening the Church commences her Triduum, culminating with Jesus’ resurrection, through whom the HS imparts God’s wedding gifts: forgiveness, light, sightedness, and wisdom by Christ’s word for participation with the Divine.

Samuel Coleridge penned, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” From Ash Wednesday ‘til now our journey with Jesus to the cross has been much as the Ancient Mariner’s Rhyme, a dry, dusty slog, amid unpotable water all around.

Let’s understand Jesus’ foot-washing. What immediately jumps-out is Moses’ initial encounter with God; on sighting the unconsumed burning bush he was commanded to remove sandals. Moses’ unclean feet stood in the presence of “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh”, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; on “holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).

Israel, crossed out of Pharaoh’s servitude; ate her Pascha in haste (Ex. 12:39), passed through the Sea, a baptismal cleansing as God destroyed devilish pursuers. Israel continued into the Sinai; after three days of ablutions for union with Yhwh (19:10, 14) they finally attended his heavenly banquet (24:9-11).

Jesus, before instituting his Holy Supper interrupted the meal, washed his disciple feet, revealing with whom they were dining, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, I-Will-Be-Who-Will-Be”. Most hardly know what to make of Jesus’ foot washing; the Evangelist assumes Christian knowledge of Jewish seders.

Coming to the Passover table, guests on the road had their feet washed by a slave (cf. Lk. 7:44-48); all the more at this Seder, in the presence of Jesus they were on “holy ground”, as are we. Peter and John were charged with the meal preparation, but failed to provide for its foot washing.

Jesus’ Supper consisted of three wine-cups interspersed by preliminary and main courses. Jesus spoke a blessing over the first cup; the disciples ceremonially washed their right hands for taking food. Extremities cleansed, Jesus interrupted; stripped his garments as slave; and to dismay and likely Judas’s disgust, washed his disciple’s feet.

As new Israel, we are on journey out of this world, tramping through an ungodly world. For Moses (“drawn out of water”), Israel’s journey out of Egypt, began with feet washed through the Red Sea.

We ask, whence our journey in the Holy Absolution of washed feet as we approach the Lord’s Seder? In short, our destination is Eden’s new garden return. Sign-posts of God’s Garden on our way out of this world are: Sinai’s covenant, tabernacle, entry into the Land, Jerusalem’s temple, and place of God’s final residence, the flesh of Christ crucified, of which we eat and drink.

Jesus is God’s Melchizedekian priest; yet by today’s Gospel, Jesus, incarnate Torah attends his word, “Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister … they shall wash with water …” (Ex. 30:19-20). In Christ you are priests as Moses who enter God’s presence confessionally discarding filthy hands and footwear.

Jordan’s water was not potable; rather it was a washing to repentance and laying-on of sins to God’s Servant. Jesus was then driven by the Spirit into the desert of our sin to thirst and trust in God.

Jesus taught a new begetting in water and Spirit (Jn. 3:3, 7), a Baptism for opened ears to the Voice of Jesus. At Jacob’s well, Jesus sought to slake his thirst from a Samaritan woman, who ran off. Jesus’ voice raised Lazarus, delivering the Spirit’s breath to dead, dry bones, portending new Life through Jesus’ Resurrection (Jn. 20:22).

Last Sunday we beheld Jesus’ Passion, his bodily dissection, reminiscent of the Psalm’s “pouring out” (Ps. 22:14). From the cross Jesus again said, “I thirst” (Jn. 19:28) concluding in death’s lake of fire; freely and fully giving himself as source of living water (Jn. 7:37, 38).

Israel’s water ablutions at Sinai prophesied Jesus’ upper room foot-washings. Cana’s wedding changed water to wine, the chief of Jesus’ signs (Jn. 2:11) manifesting “his glory”, the glory of God, and Jesus as his church’s “bridegroom of blood” (cf. Ex. 4:25).

Jesus transformed JB’s water into the NT gospel of wine; water, blood, and Spirit out of his crucified body (Jn. 19:34). Christian Baptism is a gracious washing in Jesus’ shed blood and the HS’s living water for our pass-over exodus to God in these last days.

Holiness is exclusively the work of God, not fidelity to mutual promises, but solely reception of Christ alone by grace alone, who first loved us (1 Jn. 4:10). Jesus’ foot-washing signed for his disciples their fidelity to the apostolic office for eucharistic delivery.

Jesus’ walk from Bethany to Jerusalem dusted-up feet. Through apostolic preaching, Jesus instituted his marital new covenant with his new Israel, high point of our celebratory meal as foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Jesus’ bride reflects her Lord’s holiness, “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5); or in worldly lingo, “Caesar’s wife must be above reproach” (Plutarch). Allegorical washings and sprinkled animal blood no longer suffice for our Passover to the Father.

Jesus’ foot washing initiated his Supper; an Absolution for his servants, established “fishers of men” (Lk. 5:8-11). To Peter, on behalf of all, Jesus announced the apostolic Absolution, “Do not be afraid” (v. 10), and “You are clean” (Jn. 13:10), this for their faithful delivery of word and Sacrament.

Pray for pastoral fidelity leading to Baptism and Holy Sacrament. The 2nd Sunday of Easter, we will revisit Jesus’ eucharistic expectation of fidelity, part and parcel of the cross. Amen.