The Neverending Last Supper

You know how the story goes, but I'll tell you how it went.

Last week, for three nights, three hours each night, I was Footwashing Jesus in our church's dramatic Holy Week offering. It really was a little daunting; I don't play myself very well, much less the Lord. Here are a few thoughts in the wake. Do with them what you will...such as I have, I give.

First of all, it felt sorta, well, important, washing the feet of the disciples. Being all robed up, accentuated by sandals and a little middle eastern music in the background just makes serving, well, kinda cool. But when the music fades and the robes are swept away, then the real scene begins: responding to a child in mercy instead of justice; being patient with a co-worker who brings their life's problems to work; doing whatever it is for the millionth time, again; holding your tongue's "I told you so" when its screaming to get out; fidelity to a spouse, a family, a place; blessing those who curse you; mucking out the stalls and such. You see, we want to put all our eggs, Easter and otherwise, in the basket of the Lord bathed in the dew-kissed glow of that morning, risen, victorious, anthem-like. But the example he gave and urged us to remember is the upper-room-bended-knee-kinda-crap that drives most of us to phrases like "Lord, isn't there more?" And Jesus responds (and I have this on good authority) "The servant is not greater than the master." Rats.

Second, there were those who joined in the moment and sat on the floor with us and participated in the passing of the bread and wine. And then there with those who did not. For whatever reason or reasons, they stood and sat at a distance. There was a time when I would fret over those at arms' length, doing all I could to make sure they "get it." But no more. I am not the author of this play, but a character. If his grace is truly sufficient for all at the table, from John the beloved to Judas the betrayer, and I believe, if I believe anything at all, that it is, then I'm free to share what I have and then let it be. If you or anyone else "getting it" is finally dependent on me, then we are of all men and women most to be pitied. It is a liberation via prepositions: I am responsible to you, not for you.

Third, and last, and somewhat related to the first. One thing I noticed during my three nights of Jesus was that I could keep it fun by altering the scene ever so slightly each time; an added line here, an edited gesture there, using actions rather than words or vice versa. The first night I sounded like King James; by Friday, Jesus was uttering phrases like "Aw, Peter." My partners in crime (John the beloved and Peter the raucous) followed suit. This improv kept the scene fresh, not so much for those anew in the room, but for those, us, called to do it over and over again. Life gets stale without improv; routine without flecks of the unexpected; entombed if you stay chained to the script. The endless play goes on and you may contribute a part. What will your part be?

I was relieved to hang Jesus' robe back on the hangar and get back to the art of being John. I kinda think Jesus was relieved as well...

(the character in the picture beside me is Peter, played by Tim Bergren - a gentleman and a scholar, with incredibly clean feet)


  1. Thanks for the "Inside the Actor's Studio" look at your week. I think the last night would have been my favorite (and probably a little closer to the truth).

  2. Some truly magical phrasing...what a blessing you are.

  3. How cool that your church does this & that you were asked to partipate, John. I can imagine that this taste was indeed amazing & a heavy burden all at once. I'd be ready to hang it up, too. And to thirst for more.

  4. I wanted to respond inappropriately to your picture. Instead, I will say that you are quite a convincing European Jesus. In fact, Chris and I were discussing the fact that you should be fresco-ed somewhere in Western Europe, or otherwise tapestry-ed in some stony castle. Perhaps neither is appropriate. Perhaps you would find a good fit on a VBS felt-board somewhere. In any event, you make a good Jesus. You would be my first pick if you attended my fellowship and we were having such an event.

    Thanks for thinking out-loud on your blog. You have a right way of saying stuff that needs to be said. Conviction without condemnation is good. I like


  5. Sounds wonderful. I enjoyed the improv part between characters. Nothing like some good male bonding!

    There is such freedom in being the character that God has created you to be and leaving the Holy Spirit and director roles up to Him.

    I always love the eloquent way you can say so much in so few words.


    Oh my goodness I am in such a funk at this very moment I definitely needed a friendly little reminder of all the things following these words: then the real scene begins...

    as always, a treat to read!