Sometimes I feel Peter is in the Bible just for me. I really identify with Peter most often. Any other fellow Peters out there? His impulsivity is fueled by his passion. He is well meaning but when he is quick to speak or act at times, he comes up short. I am thankful that God used Peter and the Peters of this world for great things.
Holy Week wasn’t always something I observed. It began when I came to the Anglican Church several years ago. My former tradition was more of a Protestant Evangelical background. We did not follow the church seasons , so we did not follow Holy Week. Easter Sunday was always a huge celebration, but we did not walk out the week with Christ. So the first time I observed a Maundy Thursday service, I was in awe.
On Maundy Thursday there is a foot washing. Our Priests reflect the same humility and servant leadership that Jesus exemplified when he washed the feet of his disciples. This is carried out in our Anglican Church as the rector invites 12 members of the congregation to come to the front pews. Six persons will sit on each side and two priests will each choose a side and wash 6 set of feet.
I watched the first year as my husband and 11 others came forward. I watched our priests wash and dry 24 feet. I was blown away by the humility. The rest of the service is powerful as well, but I will save that for another day. For now let’s talk more about this foot washing business.
So it is my second Maundy Thursday service to attend. Father Stan calls for volunteers from the congregation. I felt a nudge to go. This was the internal dialogue:
Nudge: Go up there and get your feet washed
Me: No, thank you. I will save that place for someone else. I wouldn’t want to take a spot that was intended for them.
Nudge: there are still several places
Me: *looks around for people to see if more are making their way forward* No I am sure others are just waiting to see. Besides I would rather do the foot washing then dare have my priest wash my feet.
Nudge: Shelly, go forward and have your feet washed
Me: That’s ok, someone else needs to more than me
Nudge: Shelly, you think you are being humble, but refusing to be served is a type of pride. Now go up front and let your priest wash your feet.
Me: *slowly nervously walk up and grab a place. Sit quietly fumbling to remove my shoes hoping my feet don’t smell because I am sure in my nervousness they are sweating now*
The priests are making their way through each parishioner.
The priest gets close.
‘Lord, forgive my pride. Sorry I was too embarrassed, too prideful, too worried what others thought to come up here. Lord wash all of me so I can serve you well. ‘
Oh , Peter, Peter I so get you!
I truly thought I was being humble by not going up to have my feet washed. Little did I know that pride comes in various forms. There is the obvious kind exhibited by self importance, arrogance, or a haughty nature. Then there is the kind that is quieter and more subtle. It disguises itself in selflessness.
I learned through a study of David written by Beth Moore when examining King Saul that one can be giving and selfless, but still self-centered. As a recovering people pleaser mind was consumed with constant worry of what others thought.
I had a family member explain “you are not self-centered, you are giving and kind.”That is what I thought, but I was because my thoughts were always on me- what did people think of me, what did they think of what I said or did. It would leave me paralyzed at times.
Through that “David”self study I realized I was a people pleaser like Saul and my people pleasing was holding me back from all God had wanted for me. God also revealed to me in that study that there was a King David inside of me and he wanted to wake up that part of me. He wanted to nurture it and grow it. He had plans for me. What I didn’t know then that I know now was that he had some giants he needed me to face too.
So how does one recover from being self-centered in thought, people-pleasing in nature, and worried about approval of others? God taught me he wanted me to be centered on him.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:10
So I continued that Bible study and began another one. I fell in love with Christian music. I listened to sermons on the radio from several different pastors on the way to and from work. All I could think about was Jesus.
It was like when you first fall in love and you want to be with that person all the time. When you can’t you want to talk to them. When you can’t do that you want to talk about them to everyone. I found myself a hopeless mess that was head over heels in love with a Savior that took me out of a pit and placed my feet on solid ground. I thought about the Lord. I talked about the Lord. God bless a couple of my friends who knew me back when that contacted me at the time, because I inadvertently beat them over the head with it. I was in love, being transformed.
God placed people around me that would nurture me. He had me move across the street and next door to pastors. My brother became a pastor. The friends I met across the street , the patients in my exam room, the main pharmacy we sent prescriptions to …they all loved Jesus. It was like he saw I was a mess and needed discipleship and he just lovingly surrounded me and hugged me until I fell deeply in love, finally with an understanding that he loved me back. In fact he loved me first.
It was in and through that experience that I learned to listen to his voice, especially through his word in the Bible and learned about those nudges from the Holy Spirit. It was that understanding that placed me on the front pew of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in Spring, Texas with my nervously sweaty and likely smelly feet as I sat humbled and laid down my pride to allow my priest to wash my feet. So I could allow my true love, my Savior Jesus to keep transforming me and making me new.
[For I am]… confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ JesusPhilippians 1:6
Even now as I use this passion of writing to share my reflection of Maundy Thursday, Peter, and overcoming pride… this witness , this retelling of my story has taken me from a place of complacency in the relative recent past to return to my first love of Jesus. As I typed it out for you I relived the elation and exuberance of my days of exponential growth in my faith as the Lord discipled me. The good news is he is not done with me, as I noted above. And with the rekindled passion, fervor and butterfly in your stomach feeling from my love of my sweet Jesus I will move forward in this Holy Week.
I will walk with my precious Jesus through some wonderful and some trying times. Then I will accompany him , but only as far as the foot of that cross that he bore for me, because I could not bear it. At the foot of that cross I will remember not only my first love , but my first moment of faith when as a 10 year old little girl when even though I didn’t understand it all… I knew that I knew that I knew that this perfect man, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God died on a cross for me and my sins. And I will wait …. So it can sink in deep …..and the resurrection Sunday bells and “Hallelujahs” will resound all the sweeter, louder, and deeper because I walked with my Jesus, my Savior and alas my Lord through this week.
May you have a blessed Holy Week.