Maundy Thursday Never Mind

Holy To-Do Lists and Pious Soups Don’t Save

I am the elder brother of the prodigal son (and the younger brother — but we’ll save that for another day). I line up my ducks and leave them so aligned. I can make a plan. I struggle to rest. Not only can I make a plan, my salvation is often in plan-making. When I can’t sleep, I make a to-do list. When I am sad, I plan our weekly menu. My dearest friends have at the ready their eye-roll emoji for when I ask them about calendar events months in advance. A plan for me is salvific.

Except it’s not.

I have been on for a month — making plans for the benefit of my school and my family and myself. I’ve planned and re-planned and edited and re-edited. I’ve written like never before, and I’ve analyzed and re-analyzed. I can feel my “need to fix it” wheels spinning, the irony being that my grasping at control is the very thing that makes me feel out of control. (I think that’s actual irony and not Alanis irony, but I am always open to correction. Well, actually, correct me in July or something.)

I am queen of Brave Face, and I’ve been putting it on big time. I’m the champion of Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It, and if that actually worked, I would have single-handedly rolled back the pandemic by now.

This, like most things about each of us, is both a blessing and curse. And, this virtue/vice of mine affects all areas of my life — work, friends, faith, and, of course, most acutely my family.

This week is Holy Week. It’s generally a favorite time of mine. And I have a plan for it.

We have a family worship liturgy and I have the readings chosen and assigned to people. We are a family of old church music, and I particularly love a dirge, so I’ve picked the hymns and printed the sheet music. It has always given great comfort to my soul to hear the truths of our brokenness articulated through song. We live in a world that denies pain as its favorite pastime and tells us constantly that we can save ourselves. And of course we cannot, and it helps me to hear the words of hymns like “Ah, Holy Jesus”:

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I , Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.

That sounds like a downer, but it keeps my soul intact to remember that I am not alone in my awfulness and that God is fully aware of it and saves me still.

So, we’ve been rocking along, Enacting The Plan. And the children, who usually actually love family worship, have been writhing in pain because I was giving them yet another thing. My wonderful husband was minding (because he agrees with the impulse, of course, but also because he can see the crazy behind my eyes before I can.) But I was ignoring the children’s protests and Paul’s looks of resignation, because I believe in the power of scripture to change our hearts and the power of drawing near to help us recognize that God is ever near to us.

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. Last night I was supposed to be making Maundy Thursday soup, and we were supposed to be meditating on the night the Lord was betrayed. We’re supposed to read about Gethsemane, and we’re going to sing “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted.” We’re supposed to be quiet and somber and reflect on this particular moment in our Lord’s passion.

Around 11:00 am, I pulled up the recipe for Maundy Thursday soup, and I actually felt my chest tighten. The plan wasn’t saving me at all. So, I momentarily wondered about altering the plan. And, y’all, I felt guilty. And the guilt is what caused the light bulb.

Our ability to erect law is so strong. The Lord is on the throne — He is not currently in Gethsemane and asking me to stay awake and pray with Him. If He was, I’d of course fall asleep and He would fix it. But He’s not. It is finished. He has been resurrected. He does not need or require me to keep any days to help Him in His work. He never did, but there isn’t even a question about the end of the story at this point. It’s over. There is no work that I can do that helps Him accomplish redemption. There never was.

Look, I am team “There can’t be meaningful Easter without first a marking of our need and Christ’s work.” I really am.

But, on this Maundy Thursday afternoon, I was just about ready to skip forward to Easter Sunday. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in my house with four urchins for four weeks. Maybe it’s because the news is just too much to bear. It’s definitely because we lost John Prine this week. My heart is just faint.

Whatever the reason, I am at the end — I need all the resurrection hope I can get. I am fully aware of my need right now. I’ve been wallowing in need for more than a month. There has never been a Lent so good at its job. I don’t need anything else to remind me of the end of myself. I reached the end of myself about eleven days ago, and now I just need Jesus.

So, on this Easter weekend, remember that Christ Is Risen Indeed, already. You don’t actually have to wait to proclaim that. If you buried your Alleluias and want to go ahead and dig them up, please, please do it now. He has defeated death and reigns on high, already. Live into that. There can be a Holy Waiting, yes, but then there can also be a waiting that fights our holiness, because it keeps us away from the cure.

I love the church calendar, and it gives life to my family. It is a great and wonderful tool in my faith. But right now, what my soul needs is less death and more resurrection. So, I’m throwing out the plan. We’re going to talk about Jesus and sing about Jesus and play Mario Kart. And we’re not going to eat any of this damn pious soup but instead we’re picking up supper from one of our favorite local fancy-pants places (that is also throwing off all the law they’ve ever sat under and frying up buckets of chicken because someone at that restaurant recognized that no one needs beets or arugula right now). We’re drinking cheap champagne and eating M&M’s by the handful for dessert.

Believer in Jesus, God loves you and wants you to rest in Him. Now. Do whatever it is that lets you run to Him. Now. You are not required to wait to come to Jesus — you don’t even have to wait until Easter morn.

Featured image credit: Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash


One response to “Maundy Thursday Never Mind”

  1. Cindy Lee says:

    I just stumbled on this today May 3. Can I say I just LOVED this and NEEDED this. C

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