I had the most extraordinary experience on Maundy Thursday. I was playing the piano for the small church where I presently worship. It is part of the complicated map of American Anglicanism that regularly rearranges itself in this era. I have a deep love for the beauty and truth of this prayer book tradition, even as I ache for the many storms that blow hard across her bow.
While I am presently in safe waters, there have been seasons where I wasn’t sure I would survive some of those storms. And it wasn’t long into this Maundy Thursday service that I recognized survivors from a past church split were present with us in that sanctuary. That dynamic isn’t uncommon in this Anglican age—this one just happened to be personal: I lost a great deal in that particular storm, and have not worshipped, let alone assisted in leading worship, with the brothers and sisters who chose to board the other ship over a decade ago.
So here I am, leading a beautiful version of Ubi Caritas praying that “all division may cease under the Lordship of our Prince of Peace” with the tears streaming down my face. “This hurts, Lord. I will wash these friends’ feet, but I lost so much in that storm. Only you know…”
And as I played, I was comforted by this phrase in John 13:33-34 “Where I am going you cannot come. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.“
There are places I am called to go with Jesus: one of them is to wash the feet of brothers and sisters with whom I share a painful past. In this instance that looked like playing as beautifully and meaningfully as my fingers and heart would allow for the remnant of a church that had once torn apart the fabric of my own life.
But there are places I cannot go. Betrayals that are too life-altering for me to straddle, pain too heavy to bear. And I am unspeakably comforted by the truth that, while the call to love takes me deeper than I ever imagined possible, Jesus went to the cross precisely because there are places I cannot come. He alone was able to bear that awful load. And He gives me life on the other side of the chaos and destruction.
I cried hard after that service. But the tears were healing. I was grateful for what I was granted the grace to do…and for realizing anew that there are places only Jesus could go. And the pain of the past rests on his shoulders so that I might lean into love with my heart directed to the future.