Salem Lutheran Church

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Love Commanded

So, how did you like the foot washing? I noticed that most of you preferred to wash hands instead. Why was that? We really don’t like to show our feet to other people, do we? And, we really don’t like to touch other people’s feet? Our feet tend to often be dirty and a little smelly, don’t they? Many of us don’t like to touch our own feet, let alone someone else’s. But feet can also be so cute. As a parent and grandparent, I remember when our kids were all little and they would be laying there and I would tickle their feet, or I’d grab their little feet as they were laying their kicking and I would kiss them and they would giggle and laugh. Even now, my two grandkids are older, but whenever they come over the first thing they do when they come in the house is take off their shoes and then it seems like eventually their socks come off and often times, Parker, my grandson, will lay on the couch or on the floor stick his feet in the air and say, “Grandpa see my stinky feet.” And you know what, I still love to grab them and kiss them and tickle them because I love my grand kids. And you know what, that is exactly how I imagine God is with us. There is nothing in our lives, not even our stinky feet that God doesn’t love.

Over the course of the past month, I have been doing one of my all-time favorite things that I get to do as a Pastor. I have been teaching the First Communion class to eight of our children who will all be receiving Holy Communion for the very first time tonight. They are all sitting up here in the front with their families. To all of you kids, I want to say thank you because it was so much fun to share this great story with you over the past several weeks. As I taught this class on Holy Communion, the kids learned about their baptisms and how God publically claimed them, and they even made picture boards about their baptism. I hope you all get a chance to see them as they are on display out front. They also each made their own communion cup that they will use this evening to receive the wine. They learned about the meaning of forgiveness, and they even made the communion bread that they will receive this evening. And we learned the most important thing we need to know about God. Hey, Kids, why don’t you stand up and tell the congregation what that is. (Kids will shout out)“God loves us!”

Yes, God loves us! God loves all of us and God wants us not only to know that we are loved, but that we are to share that love with the world. Sharing this love with the world is so important to God that God commanded us to do it. The name Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum,” meaning mandate or command. So tonight we remember how Jesus set an example for us to live our lives fulfilling His great commandment, to love one another (John 13:34). What an act of love and servitude our Savior gave us as he knelt before his disciples, those who called him Lord, those who would betray him soon, and washed their feet. Jesus willingly and intimately touched those who were about to desert him to show his love for them. What a powerful expression of how Christ desires us to serve each other, to love each other, and to care for each other, and to love even those that might betray us.

Aside from the act of foot washing, tonight we will participate in another act of love that our Lord gave us, Holy Communion. Although we will gather for worship again tomorrow, we will not celebrate Holy Communion again until we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Now, as I mentioned earlier, before all of you come forward for communion this evening, these eight youngsters will come forward with their families to receive this incredible act of love for the very first time. I pray that as you witness this event that you share the joy that these nine youngsters and their families will experience.

We celebrate these acts of love in preparation of the greatest act of love known to humanity, the Crucifixion of our Lord. Before we leave tonight, we will strip this altar of all of its ornamentation, and all that will remain is this cross; an empty, barren remembrance of the brutal, humiliating death that Jesus suffered for us. But remember it is an empty cross, which reminds us of the sure and certain hope of Christ’s Resurrection. We will leave in silence, not officially ending our service, but remembering that we will gather again tomorrow evening to continue our remembrance and celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In the shadow of the cross, we will gather to hear in song and word the Passion of our Lord. We will again leave in silence, remembering that our service continues on Easter morning.

Bothers and Sisters, we have been preparing for this service for almost 40 days. For the next three days, we will remember and celebrate the greatest act of love any being could ever offer, life itself. Tonight we have expressed our love for each other and for our Lord through the acts of washing of the feet, our offering of peace, and through Holy Communion. As we depart later in silence, may we each contemplate how we, as individuals and community, can carry out this command not only here, but throughout this broken world. How can we express our love for our neighbors, for our families, for our friends, for those who need our help, both here and around the world, and even for our enemies? The question is how can we love as Christ loved? The answer is different for each community and for each individual. Christ expressed His love by washing the feet of those present that evening. He even washed the feet of those who would betray him. He expressed his love by offering a new gift of forgiveness in this meal, and he expressed his love by willingly placing himself upon that cross. Jesus has commanded us to love one another as he loved us. He said that if we did this, the world would know that we were His disciples. I pray that each of us discovers our own ways to continue this love story out in the world. Amen.


Tags: Sermons