Sermon for Maundy Thursday

In the Hindu tradition touching the feet of a Spiritual Master or Teacher
is seen as a respectful thing to do.
It is an act of surrender and commitment to everything that they represent.
It is a little bit like kissing the Popes ring in the catholic tradition.
It is an act of recognising their spiritual authority and calling.
But in the Hindu tradition, touching the feet of a Spiritual Master goes further;
by touching the feet of their teacher
the follower is seen to connect with their holiness and wisdom,
they open themselves to receive holy gifts, to receive a spiritual experience.

In the Bible there are also many instances of touching,
or falling at, a prophets feet; or sitting at their feet,
or kissing their feet, as the prostitute did with Jesus.
Through such an action they were humbling their lives before them,
they were placing themselves at their disposal, trusting them with their lives.
There are similar actions in all the major religious traditions.

All of this makes it even more remarkable
what Jesus did to his disciples on this evening.
Not only was he taking on the role of a servant and ministering to them,
he was recognising the holy within them, bowing to the holy within them,
trusting them with his life and placing his life at their disposal.
He was connecting with their holiness and wisdom.

He turned the whole master/disciple relationship on its head
and instead of receiving their obedience, service, and honour and homage,
he gave his to them.
No wonder Peter was so shocked and taken aback by it all!

Jesus was saying: I recognise, trust and bow to the holy within you.
You who will betray me, you who will deny me, you who will desert me,
you who will let me down and disappear into the night when my accusers come.
But – I still believe in you, I still honour you, I still keep my trust in you,
I still place my life and mission into your hands.
I still lay everything I am at your feet.

That is one of the amazing things about that holy night……
the trust and honour that God placed in those disciples,
and in turn, on this holy night, places in us – in you and me.

God knows, that like those disciples, we too will get it wrong time and time again.
That we, the church, religion, will at times be lousy adverts of God’s love and kingdom.
But God touches our feet, our hands, our hearts and our lives, and says:
“I still trust you. I still believe in you.
I still my place my hope in you. I still honour you.
And I will continue to place my mission to this world into your hands.

Like Peter, we might want to resist.
But like him, we might as well just accept it’s true.