The Revd Roberta Rominger invites us to join Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Gethsemane
Enter the story. That’s the invitation of Maundy Thursday: imagine yourself there. Join the disciples as they gather in the upper room in Jerusalem and allow Jesus to wash your feet. Use your imagination — that’s what it’s for. See him kneeling in front of you with his towel and basin. Let him wash away the dust and grime of whatever road you’ve been walking this Lent.
Share in that supper. Ask Jesus whether you’re the one who is going to betray him, and experience that wave of horror as Judas gets up and leaves the room. Then let your heart stop as Jesus breaks the bread and says it’s his body. His body! And that cup, his blood. His blood! Yes, we’ve all done it hundreds of times, but there was a first time. Imagine yourself there as the feelings within the room escalate to screaming intensity. Go with him to the garden. Sit with the others and wait while Jesus prays his endless prayer. Would you fall asleep? Maybe you can sense why the others are letting go and dropping off. Is it full stomachs after dinner? Or dread, escape? Or do they simply not get it? Can you watch with him?
You may be the first to hear the footsteps of the approaching soldiers. Look at Jesus and watch for the moment when he realises what is happening. What do you see in his face? This is the answer to his prayer, but not the answer he had hoped for.
Stay with him through the chaos of his arrest. Follow behind as they take him into the city. Watch from the shadows. Let yourself experience the fear and confusion as something truly unthinkable unfolds. Eavesdrop on Peter as he disassociates himself from Jesus and feel the relief that it is he whom they confronted and not you. Do you condemn him as a coward? Or do you just draw back further out of the light so that nobody will see you?
When the night falls silent, remember what he said. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ Hold those words, until they move from your head to your heart to your life.
The Revd Roberta Rominger is minister of the Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Mercer Island, in Washington State, USA and former General Secretary of the United Reformed Church
Photo credit: Milada Vigerova