The Maundy Thursday service this evening was lovely. It was a combined service of the English and Arabic congregations. It was a small service for the cathedral, about 100 people.
The power is fairly unreliable here, and it went out just about the time that it was getting dark. As the fans shut down, the temperature quickly climbed into the high 90s inside the cathedral. The more pressing problem at that point, however, was being able to read the prayers. There followed a series of flashlight offerings to the priest, each one slightly better than the last. First a key chain light, then I offered my cell phone/flashlight combo, finally a proper flashlight showed up in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer. Somehow, the flow of the service was unbroken!
The nice thing about the power going out, was that the candles behind the altar were lit. I love the light from candles, in our culture, candles are associated with spiritual things. But candles here are for practical use. You light candles when you don’t have power, so why would you light them in broad daylight, or when there are electric lights?
Before the power went out, nearly everyone had their feet washed by the priests. I love the foot washing service. It is such a good reminder of our calling to humility in service, and that we have to both serve, and allow others to serve us.
I have had my feet washed on several different occasions while visiting villages. After sitting down in a circle with the hosts, several women will come with a basin, a pitcher, a towel, and sometimes a pair of plastic flip flops to wear while your feet dry. After walking a dusty path in the hot sun, it is such a wonderful feeling to have your feet washed, and the kindness and care that it represents is even more wonderful.
Such is the kind of service Jesus calls us to. The intimate and humble acts of life, the kindness and care we show to each other.