Jesus gets so wet this Holy Week, on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Thursday night he plunges his hands in water, spills puddles on the floor and immerses his disciples’ feet, taking on the traditional footwashing role of a servant. Friday from the cross he cries out in desperation, “I thirst!” and gets a sponge of sour wine thrown in his face. And Sunday he surprises those clean footed disciples at the beach, as they dejectedly search for fish. With his help - an abundant wet catch, they share in an Easter fish barbeque.
As a Blue Theologian I give thanks to God for water every day of the year, but this week, Jesus’ last and first, it is his wetness I commemorate. Thursday I may get my feet wet at my own Maundy Thursday foot washing service on the beach. Good Friday I will worship online to hear Jesus’ Seven Last Words, including that so very human cry, “I thirst.” And Easter services, I think we’ll have fish for our special dinner, and eat it coast side.
The world is feeling a bit dry and barren these days – I am praying for some wet resurrection.
Note to my preacher readers – have you ever noticed how much wetter Jesus is in John’s gospel than the other three? Only in John (and not the other three) does Jesus turn the water into wine, only in John does he meet the Samaritan woman at the well and offer her living water, never to thirst again, only in John does he cry from the cross “I thirst,” and only in John does he host a beach barbeque. I tend to think of John as a little serious and abstract, but maybe he was actually a water baby. We do traditionally say that he was an island guy, lived and died on Patmos. Maybe his island days made him a Blue Theologian, celebrating all things wet.
Unlike the other gospels’ accounts of how Jesus spent his last night, that he shared a meal with his disciples, John’s has no Last Supper. Instead, his sacramental act of commissioning and sharing with his disciples is about taking on the servant role, welcoming the guest with a bowl of clean water. At various churches I have served we have celebrated Maundy Thursday with this most vulnerable and gentle exchange – kneeling and washing each other’s feet.
I invite you to get wet with Jesus this holy week. Serve others in his name with a quiet moment of simple care. Hear, and answer the cry of those who thirst, for real clean water, and for justice. And invite others to walk and eat with Jesus beside the sea. The catch is always abundant. And wet.
I like this picture by John August Swanson because both men and women receive the sacramental washing, and because of the swirly fluid robes they wear. I post these Blue Theology devotionals on ocean stewardship and spirituality every Wednesday here and on Facebook. Check out bluetheology.com for ocean pilgrimages and service trips by Monterey Bay.