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What do you see in the image above?

Wait –

A vase

Two faces




It could be either/or, it’s an illusion, and an illusion generally presents the viewer with a mental choice of two interpretations, each of which is valid. Often, the viewer sees only one of them, and only realises the second, valid, interpretation after some time or prompting. When they attempt to simultaneously see the second and first interpretations, they suddenly cannot see the first interpretation anymore, and no matter how they try, they simply cannot encompass both interpretations simultaneously- one occludes the other.


In the Gospel reading we are presented with contrasts but not illusion: Jesus, the leader of the group is seen washing the feet off those who follow him. Jesus the Leader is the servant amongst his friends, these roles may at first seem mutually exclusive and thus like an illusion be difficult to hold in tension and yet with a little prompting maybe we are able to conceive of the leader as the servant…


On Tuesday, I went to Wells Cathedral, albeit this year on zoom, to remember with  other clergy in the Archdeaconary of Taunton, the vows that we made at our ordinations, vows to serve. As Bishop Ruth was preaching I was starkly reminded that at my ordination in 2005 bishop Peter Price had washed my feet, he as my Bishop had humbled himself to serve me. And I was reminded that as an ordained person my primary role amongst you is to serve.


It needs to be understood that Jesus is both modelling servanthood to his disciples as he washes their feet and at the same time he is showing to them the love that leads him the next morning to Golgotha and his death.


Jesus died because of the life that he lived, because he served: He embraced lepers, forgave adulterers and ate with sinners and outcasts. And this he did: for love, because of love, in love. Because Jesus loved he died as he did.


This presents the other contrast that is implicit within the in the Gospel text; and that dichotomy is this: that Jesus was to die and that that death would glorify God. In the reading we have a foreshadowing of Christ’s death. How can crucifixion be glorious?


Whereas the cross itself is ugly because it happened, it is yet beautiful because of why it happened. It happened because Jesus loved. His compassion led to death and yet that in it’s self would not have been glorious. That his death that came out of love led to life for all, is the most glorious thing.


As we share in communion we too are presented with contrasts that arise from Christ’s passion:


(Look at the picture) As we drink from the cup that wine which symbolises Christ’s death for our transgression…

…we come (observe both faces) face to face with the living Christ.


It is Maundy Thursday a day on which we are reminded of who we are before God. We are reminded that we all, as followers of Christ are called; as were those first followers to practice:


"...a new commandment, that we love one another." Just as Jesus loves us so we also should love one another.


By this everyone will know that we are His disciples, if we have love for one another.”


As Desmond Tutu said:

‘We are called to be where Christ would be,

this one who was vilified for being the friend of sinners.’


As we drink this cup tonight and come face to face with Jesus, may we commit ourselves to love as he loved..

Communion Prayer


On this holy night, then, let us pray for the church and all humankind.


God our provider, you feed us with the bread of life and lift for us the cup of salvation, on this night Jesus gave us this holy feast:


May all who gather here receive a foretaste of the eternal banquet.

God of love

grant our prayer.


Servant God, on this night Jesus washed his disciples’ feet: may we follow this example of love and service.

God of love

grant our prayer.


God of compassion, on this night Jesus prayed for those who would believe through the message of the disciples: may those who gathered on this week to renew their ordination vows so live what they proclaim that all may come to know your saving love.

God of love

grant our prayer.


God of renewal, on this day oil was consecrated for use in baptism and healing: we pray for all who will be anointed with these holy oils, for the sick, and for those preparing for baptism.

God of love

grant our prayer.


God  our companion, we pray for those unable to eat at the Lord’s Table or at any other table, for those who betray and for those betrayed, and for all innocent victims.

God of love

grant our prayer.


God of hope, remember all those in need, especially those we silently hold before you now …


God of love

grant our prayer.


Holy God,

you give us this meal of bread and wine

in which we celebrate your great compassion;

grant that we may work with you to fulfil our prayers,

and to love and serve others as Christ has loved us;

this we ask through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,

who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Words of Institution


in this night that he was betrayed he had supper with his friends,

He took bread and broke it:

"This is my body, which shall be broken for you".

He then took a cup and said:

"This is my blood, shed for you and for many".

Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of him.


Take Communion if you desire, quietly.

Blow out your candle, if one was lit,

and quietly go back to what you were doing.


As we leave one another, we go with God's love and blessing, to meet him face to face.