"On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus will gather with his disciples for a final meal. On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus will take his friends with him to a garden where he will pray, and they will sleep. Holy one, keep us attentive and willing to pray and meditate, to stay close to you as the world is so full of violence and reports of violence. When the desire to become resentful and numb, the temptation to despair is so great, teach us patience, tolerance, gentleness, compassion and empathy. Strengthen us to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, self-centeredness, arrogance, ignorance, and greed. Keep us close to you, seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly."
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But Timothy’s* worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.
25 Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow-soldier, your messenger* and minister to my need; 26for he has been longing for* all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honour such people, 30because he came close to death for the work of Christ,* risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
1) "...cheered by news of you;" "...trust in the Lord;" "...with all joy;"
2) I nearly passed up this passage as being too colloquial for Maundy Thursday, too familiar. I expected profound theological insights from Paul, not housekeeping, gossip and salutations. I want to hear about being true while Jesus is praying in the garden, I want to test myself and see if I am more true that Peter and his weak and tired companions. But then here it is so simple the work of Christ: friends caring for each other in illness; friends taking joy in each other; friends maintaining community over distance and time; friends loving one another intimately; friends admonishing and encouraging one another; friends holding tight even while Paul is imprisoned and facing what could be his own execution... and he's the one encouraging them! Paul is choosing hope over despair and attending to the minutia of living even while the potential end approaches. He is not "riding the bomb," but carrying on with what is important.
Suddenly, I have a memory from the few months I lived with my mom when I first returned to the Lower Mainland to live after living on the Prairies for 10 years. Every morning as I left for work, mom would accompany me down the stairs to the door and kiss me good bye. I've lived alone most of my adult life and the simple ritual of saying good bye at the beginning of the day was something I cherished. Those little daily rituals that we share with other people are important and sacred.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To attend to the minutia of daily relationships, to be present to the small, but important moments, the little words we say to each other. Even "Good Morning," is a sacred greeting between people who love each other.
"Holy One, lead us more deeply into the relationships you have given us as our path to following you."
Breathprayer: "Trust in the Lord... with all joy."