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  • ivanildotrindade 10:24 pm on November 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fisherman, fishing, foot washing, last passover, peter, three-fold communion   

    Peter, the man — II 

    “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

    “If you’ve been married as long as I have, you know there are subjects you don’t ever talk about, at least not in public. My wife is good about pinching me whenever I am about to start on a topic SHE doesn’t think is appropriate. But on a night like this I feel that the Lord wouldn’t mind if I told you the story about the time He almost didn’t wash my feet.

    So let me start by telling you straight: fishermen grow up around dirty feet. Our poor feet are either getting wet or getting dirty. On the boat, we are around fish all the time, so you can guess what our feet smell like. (Just about right now I would start to feel the pinch…). On dry ground, we put our sandals on and walk on dirt, over sharp rocks, or sometimes on muddy roads that have been drenched by rain, and the heat sometimes makes our feet steamy and sticky. By the time we get home, our feet look like the fish we just caught – dead and smelly.

    No one with a right head, then, would offer to go anywhere near our feet. Only the rich had servants who would wash their feet at the door when they got home. The rest of us resorted to bribing our kids to remove our sandals before we collapsed on the floor after a hard day at work. Touching our feet, then, was a no-no, unless you wanted be the one collapsing on the floor.

    So on Passover night, when Jesus rose up and started washing feet, you can imagine the shock… First of all, we were in the middle of a meal. I mean, what kind of a person washes feet just before dessert during the Passover meal? No one I knew. Just picture this, “Andrew, can you pass me the jelly donut, please, and while you are at it, can you give me your feet too?” Sounds kind of strange, doesn’t it?

    But that’s not all. Remember, we’re talking about Jesus here. He was a miracle worker. Women had anointed His feet with expensive perfume and we loved to sit at His feet with abandonment. Now He was the one bending toward our feet and washing them. Something about the whole scene screamed “Awkward!” The other guys felt the same way, but they were always so scared to speak their mind. Me? I didn’t care. As soon as I saw what He was doing, I said to myself, “No way, Pedro! He ain’t touching my feet!”

    So when Jesus came to me with his towel, I asked Him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” What I really meant to say was, “Lord, you are NOT going to wash my feet, are you?” But instead of giving me a straight “yes” or “no” answer, he gave me the typical “get on with the program” line, preferably without asking too many questions. He said something about the fact that this would make sense later. But I didn’t care about later; I only cared about the moment and my gut feeling at the moment told me, “No way!” Look, I know I am a simple-minded fisherman, but what sort of an answer is this, “Just do it”? Some kind of first Century Nike commercial?

    I wasn’t buying it, so I said, “No, you shall NEVER wash my feet.” Jesus didn’t flinch, He didn’t raise His voice, He didn’t show any sign of frustration whatsoever. He simply rose away from my feet, and I felt the love in His voice when He said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

    Somehow, when He said that, I got it. And it was all because of one little word. Jesus didn’t say, “Unless I wash your FEET, you have no part with me.” He said, “Unless I wash YOU.” That word “YOU” finally sank into this old fisherman’s thick head. It hit me like the jolt of a sudden wave on the Sea of Galilee.
    I realized then that Jesus was just using my feet to get to my head. The whole time, He was not really talking about the exterior dirt on my feet. He was talking about the sin inside of me. With that simple act of washing my feet, He was reminding me that my sins were not a single episode; they were a series. And His Father, who is Holy, is offended when I sin, so I need to experience His daily cleansing.

    When the light came on, it was like an unexpected catch. I went from “no feet” to “head, hands and feet.” I wanted the full body treatment because I knew that sin had contaminated every area of my life. I thought of the argument I had just had with James and John about who was the greatest, the way I had treated my wife the last time I saw her, my thoughts about the Samaritan people we had just visited, who had hurled insults at us because we were headed to Jerusalem….

    At that moment, I saw who I really was for the first time in my life, and I was covered with shame. The thought of not being on good terms with my Lord overwhelmed me, so I told Jesus to dump the whole bucket of water on me. Jesus graciously reminded me that I didn’t need a full bath. Once cleansed of the guilty of sin, we just need regular cleansing, which is possible through our daily communion with Him. A wave of relief came over me. I was so happy that my relationship with Him didn’t have to stay broken and His humble action that night – washing our feet – was a beautiful picture of that.

    So, on this night, when we remember the work the Lord did for us, this truth rings as true today as it did the night He almost didn’t wash my feet. In a way, He is still here and He wants to wash YOUR feet. Please don’t be like me, let Him do it and embrace His cleansing.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 11:12 am on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: love feast, passion of the christ, peter, peter's denial   

    Peter’s questions: “Lord, where are you going?” 

    I wrote three monologues about Peter, one of Christ’s apostles, in which I tried to humanize him and show how he might have felt about the events surrounding the last days before Christ’s crucifixion. I did it without realizing that I would be asked to perform these at Communion service in our church (no one was willing to tackle all the memorization involved!). This happened yesterday, once in the morning, and once in the evening.

    Some people asked me to make the monologues available, so I am posting them here, starting today:

    “Lord, where are you going?”

    Growing up in the home of a fisherman like I did was always an adventure. For one thing, we didn’t we ever follow a schedule. The tide was our king so when it changed we were on the move; if the fish got scarce, we scattered, only to camp out somewhere and wait what appeared to be endless hours for that great catch… which sometimes was so great, it never came.

    Moving at a fast pace, pausing, hurrying up again were as common to me as eating “Matza” during Passover, so when I decided to follow this Jewish Rabi who was claiming to be the Messiah, I knew exactly what I was signing up for – lots of strenuous journeys up and down the barren hills of Palestine, little sleep, food on the fly, and not much solitude. But I was ready for the challenge.

    And for three and a half years I followed this man who had divine powers but never seemed to like to tell us what was next on his agenda. As soon as we got settled into a village, he was on the move again – a friend was ill, and he had to go and heal him; a sudden wedding invitation and he would haul all of us into the home of a person we had never met before. Such was, then, the life of a Messiah-follower – always on the move, not settling anywhere, and never complaining about the pace.

    Oh for sure, some of the guys who were not used to physical activity, did try to complain, but I always reminded them that they were there by choice, plus they always had the option of dropping out. Matthew, who was used to just sitting outside the city gates collecting money, was so out of shape that he often lagged behind. We started joking with him that we were going to tax him since he was always the last one to get anywhere…  Matthew wasn’t laughing, especially when we made a human chair with our arms and invited him to sit on his old tax collector’s seat, and we would say, “Hail to the old publican!”

    You may laugh, but we had to come up with stuff like that to entertain ourselves – the pace was so brutal and the food tentative at best. I must have lost twenty kilos just in my first year following him. Jesus was a king on the move. He was the master tide-changer and we, mere humans, had to keep up with him. I lost count of how many times we walked the countryside from Galilee to Judea, from Judea to Galilee, but I was taking everything in stride. I was, after all, a tough old fisherman; nothing could phase me.

    Toward the end, though, I must admit that even I was getting a little tired. He began to talk about going back to Jerusalem one more time. We wanted to hang on to him a little longer because we knew that things were so volatile in Jerusalem. They had marked him and by extension they had marked all of us. We tried to convince him to head north and go home, but he said no. “All right, then,” I said, “Let’s all go and die with him there.” But I was just kidding … dying wasn’t exactly on my bucket list.

    The night before Passover, just as we entered Jerusalem, he began to talk in the familiar tones of someone who is saying good-bye. We couldn’t quite get it and John was freaking out. He thought he and Jesus were so tight they would never be separated. Not to be outdone, I was waiting for a chance to tell Jesus that if he thought he could “lose” me, he might as well forget about it. I didn’t leave fishing just because I needed some exercise – I was in it for the long haul and I was going to stick with him no matter what.

    My chance came when Jesus announced He was going somewhere we could not follow him. He said, “In a little while you will look for me but not find me.” I thought, “No, we aren’t!” I mean, hadn’t I left everything to follow Him? Wasn’t I willing to endure His demanding schedule? To pick up and go at a moment’s notice? Hadn’t He done enough tide change in our lives to last a lifetime? And what do you mean we will seek you but not find you? How do you play hide and seek with the Messiah?

    “Slow down, Peter,” I thought, “Don’t run your mouth like you did before.” So I hid my emotions and said, almost in a whisper, “Lord, where are you going?” I wanted a street address, with a zip code, if at all possible, but instead I got more of the same coded language he had used before: “Where I am going, you cannot follow now,” but He didn’t stop there. He got teary-eyed, and a deep sense of tenderness filled the air when he added, “… but you will follow later.”

    I didn’t quite get it, but it didn’t matter anyway because just about now the old emotional Peter was back. Pumping my chest, I said, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!!” His eyes were now completely filled with tears and He uttered those words I wish I had never heard, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And that’s how history went down, remember?

    I suppose you could think that this story ends on a sad note, but you would be wrong. Though I remember his piercing words about my denial, it is the confident words about the future that I remember the most. He said, “… but you will follow later.” Wow. On the eve of what would be his most excruciatingly painful test, Jesus was pointing to a future joyous occasion when we would be together with Him again. And the thought of that future reunion with Him has kept me going.

    After His resurrection, He hung around with us for five weeks. It was a sneak preview of that future reunion. We, who saw Him fade into the chamber of death, also saw Him after He burst through the gates of hell and proclaimed victory over sin. So no matter what happens to us, we are not turning back, and this time around this old fisherman can say with complete understanding, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you!”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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