We gathered at tables in the narthex. A basin and pitcher were at each table.
On other tables, there were clay pots with paper and pencils, a cross, a crown of thorns, and the bread and cups for communion.
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Mark 14: 2b-9
Pouring Out Our Hearts
We are prone to withhold the deepest outpourings of our hearts. Somehow we think that we are bothering God, or that God is not interested in our little lives. But our God loves us deeply and is always ready to listen to our prayers, whatever they may be. God is ready to hear our laments, our sorrows, and our anger. God is always ready to hear our praise, our devotion, and our words of love and gratitude.
Using the paper provided, write or draw the deepest feelings in your heart. You do not need to make complete sentences or even put your prayer into words. Place your prayers into the small clay pot, and take the pot back to your place.
Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
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. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then 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. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
12After 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? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:1-9; 12-16
Find another person to go with you to the pitcher and basin. Using the soap and water, wash one another’s hands. Do not hurry with this, but take your time to gently soap, rinse and dry each other’s hands. As you wash the other’s hands consider Jesus’ words: if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” As your hands are washed, meditate on Jesus’ reminder: “servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.”
Jesus is Tormented
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Mark 15:16- -20
The Crown of Thorns
Although the gender specific language is outdated, the sentiment of these important words from an old Christian hymn remains: "Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side." These words speak of a decision that is made once; forever and always. But in truth it is a decision made over and over again. And the decision, although often made in the community of other believing people, is always deeply personal. It is an individual's conscious choice to take up the cross to follow Jesus Christ.
There is within each of us a desire for power and a longing for prestige. We make ourselves out to be people we are not. All too often we live like we know what we are doing, when we really don't know. We try to be seen, more than we try to see. We hope for the limelight, more than we hope for the light of Christ.
We pause to focus on the crown of thorns that was mockingly placed upon the head of the Master. We consider that the crowd "stood by and watched" even though they could see in his eyes his innocence. We remember his anguish. We hope for faithfulness as we take up our cross and follow him.
Find a person you trust and discuss these questions:
How do you determine when it is “the moment to decide”?
When do you feel you might have made the choice for limelight over Christ-light?
In what ways do you crown Jesus as king in your own life?
Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross
But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. Luke 23:23-27
The Orthodox Cross
The Orthodox Cross is an emblem of belief. It’s third crossbar, tilting up to the right, has been said to symbolize the forgiveness Jesus directed to the thief on his right, who said to him “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” The thief believed, even at the hour of his death.
Each one of us lives in the shadow of the cross. The light that is Christ shines upon us, and the shadow of the cross falls on us, not to leave us in darkness, but to show that we live and walk in the light of Christ.
Take a few moments to look closely at the Orthodox Cross and at the large rough-hewn cross behind it. Feel the surface of the cross, and imagine what the cross looked like that day that Jesus was crucified. Would you have carried that cross? What cross have you carried in your own life? How have you been assured that Jesus remembers you?
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
We served one another at table.
The New Commandment
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
An Outpouring of Love and Prayer
As you prepare to leave, take the small clay pot you have filled with your prayers, and carry it to the cross. You will find two heart-shaped dishes there. Pour out your prayers into those hearts, trusting that God will receive them with great love. Go out into the world with empty and open hands, ready to receive love, and to offer love for others. Know that your return here on Easter Sunday is a statement of your commitment, your hope, and your love.
As we left, we sang "Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love"