Yes, Easter also involves the defeat of death and power over the grave. But we feel so traumatized by Jesus' trial, beatings and the crucifixion that we can rarely absorb much more of this event. At Christmas, we are celebrating the miraculous birth of a baby. Babies are fun and easy to discuss with our youngest family members and are unchurched neighbors. At Easter, we are grasping eternity. We are on an emotional roller coaster from Palm Sunday's praise to Good Friday's earthquakes. It is heavy and hard for most of us. This week, I am sharing some ideas, key moments that we can use to celebrate Easter in attainable, meaningful ways. My family will be invited to join me in these activities.
Easter, you are hard. But you are so good.
Peter: Lord, are you going to wash my feet?
Jesus: You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.
Peter: No, you shall never wash my feet.
Jesus: Unless I wash you, you have no part of me.
Peter: Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.
John 13: 6-9
Six years ago, I taught middle school Bible to a class of uninterested students and was praying about lesson plans that would connect them to the Word. We talked about Peter and his reaction to Jesus in this passage. The students were invited to wash each other's feet. I did not require them to participate, only to be quiet and respectful while others were. One student who did not want to remove their shoes was asked to read the passage from the Bible while we washed each other's feet. Most of those middle school students were moved by watching and participating in this humbling act of service. God softened some hearts, and one student asked that the water be poured on his head and hands like Peter had.
Notice that Jesus tells Peter that he will understand. . .later. Easter has layers. We can study it and celebrate year and year and still grasp something new. It is important to talk to young children about hard spiritual ideas. It is important to talk to our teenagers and to other adults. We can help each other understand. When we grab a bowl and a towel and wash each other's feet, we experience the humbling ceremony of serving one another. We are softened.
Sometimes we need to see the bowl of fresh water and feel our own clean feet after they have been washed. Sometimes we need to stop telling Jesus what he can't do in our lives. We need to do things his way today, because we will understand it later.
Jesus concludes with, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
Yes, Lord. We will.