There’s nothing like a Holy Thursday service to put in perspective being miserable at church.
I live the experience of many parents who bring their young kids to church. I am fortunate that our current congregation has become very welcoming toward children. But tonight was Holy Thursday. The service started at the kids’ bedtime, and this year I also have an almost-toddler to chase as well.
What is wrong with me that I put us through a 1.75 hour service without Sunday School after bedtime?
It’s their very most favorite service of the year.
The kids look forward to it all year. This is N’s fourth year helpng, and she remembered better than I did what to bring from home. They will probably play at washing each other’s feet all week. I had to peel them away repeatedly from watching everyone else have their feet washed.
Somehow, we all end up washing the right feet. In this time of what feels like her reign of terror, I got to watch the 4-year-olds feet. She washed her big sisters’. Baby got her feet washed for the first time. And the 6-year-old got to pay it forward for the family. (“Your feet are so white!” She says to the bishop.)
It’s not hard for me anymore to have my feet washed. But it’s still hard to need love so much and to receive the love I’m being given.
Still, the service was tough. Overtired kids are not happy kids. Even when they’re laughing their heads off and running in literal circles. And as patient as my congregation is with children, it’s not really fun for them or me having my exhaustion on display.
But the threat of having to go home is enough to make them try to sit still – they don’t want to miss the big ending.
We receive communion together. And we hear Psalm 22. And I think of Jesus carrying all of us. I know I am just as stubborn and insane as the 4-year-old, and more complaining than the 6-year-old. But he carries me and loves me as easily as if I was just as pure and lovable and joyful as the 1-year-old.
EDIT: Let me try that again. To God, I, just as I am, with all my faults, failures, repeated sins, idolatries, etc. – I am completely loveable. God accepts me and rejoices in me fully. That is the relationship he has always wanted with us and Jesus’ willing sacrifice made it possible.
I’ve been struck this week how easy forgiveness is for God, because he loves us so completely. He’s so ready to forgive, and move on. Sometimes I receive forgiveness and beat my breast a while, not because my sin is so terrible, but because I feel I ought to. Just take the forgiveness and get on with things, child. You don’t need your hands and head washed. Just let him wash your feet and sit at table together.
He washes our feet all the time. He serves us all the time in this way, forgiving and carrying and rejoicing. Without tiring or resenting or sleeping. So let him do it.