In these or similar words ...

Dear Jesus,
“Lord, you can’t mean me!” That’s my reaction when I read the story of that last Passover meal with your friends. I am one of your friends, and as I sit around that table, so full of love and admiration for you, I feel disconcerted when you talk about one of us betraying you. “You can’t mean me!” I want to call out along with Judas. How could I ever betray the one who loves me so endlessly?

I am so moved by your humanness at this meal. The story begins by saying how you had always loved your followers and you loved them until the end, and I feel it tonight, in such an intimate setting with you. You had loved us all, those who had followed you so closely from the beginning and those of us who hung back, waiting until we could be sure you were really going to save us.

Now all of us are gathered around your table, and you say that we, your closest friends, will betray you. How sad you look when you say that. How distracted you look as you think about the days ahead. I want to be with you in your apprehension and anxiety. I want to stay with you and support you, dear friend, because I sense your fears. Most of all, I want to reassure you that I won’t betray you. Then you take off your cloak and begin to wash our feet. Please, Lord, not my feet! They are so smelly and dirty and my nails are ragged. I like to keep them hidden in my sandals, not exposed to anyone, especially you. But you are so gentle as you take my feet from where I have tucked them under my garment and wash them clean. The moment you bend deeply over my newly washed feet and kiss them, I realize that the places where I can let you love me the most deeply are the places where I am embarrassed, the parts I want to hide from others, my weaknesses.

You ask if we understand what you did. You have served us by washing our feet. Your kingdom is about service, not about being pampered. Do this for one another, you say. Finally, I think I am beginning to understand what you have been talking about for so long. It’s about taking care of one another, washing one another’s feet, and serving one another in the most humble of ways. You have anointed my feet with your kiss and sent me on this journey to follow in your footsteps.

Can I follow you? I’m not sure, Jesus. I know that I love you and want to be like you. I am afraid that I will betray you. And I know that as sad as this makes you, my failings are the places where I need you the most. That’s where you will always be with me.

But tonight, let me be with you, dear friend. Let me sing a hymn with you as we end this most intimate dinner and walk out into the garden to pray. Let me hold your hand through this long night ahead. I feel your love for me so deeply and I feel your invitation to join you in this journey of serving others as you have.

Thank you for inviting me. I will stay awake with you, Lord.

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