Meditation on Blessing


A meditation inspired by John 13: 1-17; 31b-35

[for an audio recording of this meditation, click here]

We have heard the holy words of the gospel, let us now meditate on the blessing they hold for us. For they do hold a blessing. Even at a distance. Even without the meal, and the foot washing, and the hands lain on heads. Even without the physical presence and the ritual that we long for, there is a blessing in these words and in this night, if we will open our hearts to receive them.

And so, I invite you into meditation. Close your eyes and open your hearts. Take a deep breath. In this breath let God’s Spirit draw you close, for this is a night of drawing close.

Of all nights in this Holy Week, this is the most intimate. It is private and vulnerable. A moment for love to be spoken and expressed…

we see love in the motion of Jesus kneeling in service,

we feel love in the touch of water on skin,

we hear love in a new commandment for how we care for one another.

You have heard this night described before, but as you meditate on the scene, tonight you can enter in. You are included in this blessing, for you too are Christ’s beloved disciple. And in the Spirit, you are present with Jesus – to hear his words and to receive his love.

As he kneels before his disciples, so he kneels are your feet. He pours the fresh, cool water into a stone basin, and you hear the splash. In that soft sound you hear the echo of the waters that poured over your head at baptism, and the echo of his promise of living water, that will become in you a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

You feel his rough, carpenter’s hand reach out gently for your feet. They are dusty with the residue of labor and life, but as he washes them with water they release both dirt and tension. You feel cared for. Cherished. Cleansed. This gift of love is healing.

Perhaps, with Peter, you express your longing for more: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus smiles, but shakes his head. “There is no need. You are already clean.” But he understands what you are saying, what you need. You ache for the assurance of hands laid on your head… of whispered words “I forgive you all you sins.”

He does not need to wash your head, but he raises his hand and lays it softly on your brow. Feel its weight. Perhaps, you wish to raise your own hand and lay it in benediction on your head. After all, you are his disciple. You are commissioned as a witness to his love. So why not begin here – by offering this touch of love and forgiveness first to yourself. Speak to your soul the words of assurance:

In loving obedience to the command of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.”

As the weight of your hand lifts, so does the weight of guilt. You need not carry it with you. Christ has forgiven you.

He has also commissioned you. Hear his voice as he calls you to your work: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

You know now what that love feels like:

It feels like gentle fingers and cleansing water on your feet – washing away your weariness.

It feels like a hand laid on your head – lifting the weight of every sin you carry.

It feels like a loving smile and tender words telling you that you are free –free to love others as you have been loved.

You know what it feels like to receive what you need – even at a distance. Even without physical water to wash you; even without physical hands to bless you; even without physical presence to communicate love. You know that the love of Christ is not constrained by such barriers, and that you are called to share that love, even in times such as these.

And “if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

So, as we move past this time of meditation, let both the blessing and the commission go with us. In our worship and in our living, let us live in the love Christ has modeled for us.

Amen.

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