I’ve never really been a fan of “women’s ministry” — mostly because my few experiences with it at my churches growing up left me feeling like I would never belong to the elite club of ladies who read their Bibles on the daily, prayed fervently and without ceasing, knew all the Christianese, and were frankly quite perfect.
Then I realized that, bless their hearts, that maybe they didn’t have it all together but instead they put their best foot forward because that’s just what we’re supposed to do. Broken and loveless marriages, addictions, gossipping, feelings of inadequacy, wayward children, infertility, depression..those things didn’t have a place around the women’s ministry tables where I sat. No, those were the things we “prayed” (read: gossipped) about for others but would never to admit to each other that it was happening to us, too.
I could never reconcile the differences between what my interactions with women’s ministry expected me to be and who I actually was. So, like any good southern girl does, I bottled it up, put on a smile, and stayed as far away from deep meaningful relationships with women as much as I could through the whole of my 20s. It was just easier that way. I was safe from the judgement, safe from the bless your hearts, and safe from becoming just like them when I was old enough to sit around their tables for real.
Frankly, it’s all BS. And it’s time to change this perception.
Maundy Thursday has always kind of eluded me. Even as I sit to write this post I’m still trying to grapple with the significance of it all.
It is significant, of course.
Maybe it’s in the seemingly insignificant that we find our most precious moments with our Savior.
Passover, by the time Jesus celebrates it with his disciples, is already several generations old. This traditional meal is a reminder of the history of the Jewish [Israelite] people and a celebration of God’s provision and faithfulness in liberating the Jewish people from Egypt. It’s a retelling of a story that everyone knows and it’s as traditional and as expected as my having a turkey at Thanksgiving.
While all the gospels focus on The Last Supper, the one that I’ve been reading and re-reading this week is the account found in John.
He focuses on the last big conversation Jesus has with his disciples before he is betrayed by Judas and crucified.
They talked about things that were probably insignificant to them [the disciples] at the time. After all, they’ve celebrated Passover every year they’ve been alive. They’ve probably shared a Passover meal with Jesus before and maybe they’ve even already asked him all of these things.
Even reclining around the Passover table with Jesus on the eve of his betrayal, they missed it. The disciples still wondered, still questioned. Jesus’ time with the disciples is nearing the end and they’re still acting as if they need more proof.
Peter protests Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples (John 13:8)
John gets “the look” from Peter when Jesus says he’ll be betrayed by someone at the table (John 13:22-25)
Judas leaves under some unknown pretenses but was assumed to be handling some sort of financial transaction (John 13:29)
Peter wants to know where he [Jesus] is going (John 13:36)
Thomas doesn’t know the way (John 14:5)
Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father (John 14:8)
Judas (not Iscariot) wonders why Jesus won’t just reveal himself to the whole world and be done with it (John 14:22)
Jesus patiently answers their questions, challenges their faithfulness, and then gives them their last final command: to love each other just has he has loved them.
That’s it. That’s all.
Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35 NLT)
I bet the disciples played back their last conversations and days with Jesus while they watched him hang on the cross the next night full of love for them [and you and me]. What felt like another normal night of leaning in to Jesus and his teaching became a call to action to share with others that the Messiah has come and he is exactly who he says he is because the Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled.
What seemed insignificant and normal at first became suddenly, significantly weird a few days later. Every phrase carried a little more weight, every look, every touch, all the pieces came together. Jesus uses his last few hours with his disciples to give them their final instructions before his time on this earth was up.
I sit here and write all this as I stare at a fish tank that needs cleaning and a half-naked toddler racing his cars through the living room and I wonder
how significant are my insignificant moments?
The significance of the sacrifice of my Savior is found in the joy of my toddler’s laughter
and in the unwashed clothes left over from a trip to spend time with my family
and in the pile of books in the corner that I long to read
and in the sun that sets out my back window
and in the garden that’s full of weeds and waiting to be tended to this weekend.
My Savior broke bread with a rag tag bunch of guys and promised me that he’d be back soon. But in the meantime, I’m going to keep looking for him in the things that feel insignificant.