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Today we celebrated Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin term “mandatum” meaning to command. So Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ mandate to the disciples after he washed their feet during the last supper.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15

It is fitting that we should end Lent by reflecting on Jesus’ command that we live a life of service to others. This is by far, His most difficult request of us. Serving others does not come naturally to human beings. If you watch children and teenagers, you will see that fact in action. We are born being self-absorbed.

It is only through training that we learn how to serve others. Jesus understood this fact about human nature. He knew that he had to emphasize to the disciples that service to others should be part of spiritual life. And when he washed the disciples’ feet, he gave them a clear visual of what he meant.

Jesus understood that our happiness comes from being in service to other people.  When we serve other people, we make positive connections with them. We feel loving toward the person that we are helping, and they feel cared for by us.

Many folks are sad and frustrated because they don’t serve others.  They are far too focused on themselves. They are too busy wondering why other people aren’t meeting their needs. Serving other people is not on their agenda. They are too busy wondering why other people aren’t doing more for them.

It seems counterintuitive, but serving others is our path to happiness. We were made to be in relationship with others, and our relationships blossom when we serve. For example, my husband and I have a good marriage because we continually serve each other. Not always in grand ways, but typically in the small things. For instance, this afternoon, my husband carried some boxes to the basement for me.  I, in turn, baked his favorite cookies. Not earth-shattering stuff. But our continually serving one another throughout the day makes our relationship run more smoothly.

If my husband sat on the couch at the end of the day and shouted “Where is dinner?” we wouldn’t fare too well. Similarly, if I ate bon bons while he fetched me cups of tea, we would likewise not have a great marriage. Mutual service is what makes our marriages work.

When we serve each other, our world becomes a better place. They say that 84% of the world’s inhabitants have a religious faith. With an approximate world population of 7.7 billion people, that means that 6.4 billion people practice some form of religion. Can you imagine if all of those 6.4 billion religious people did one thing each year to serve a stranger? Our world would look very different, indeed.

I suspect no one would go without food, clothing or shelter (or healthcare for that matter). I suspect that every child would have access to an education. And I suspect that we would live in a much kinder and gentler world than we do right now.

In honor of Maundy Thursday, I would encourage you to reflect on Jesus’ mandate: Serve one another. Know that in serving others, you not only will bless others, but you will make your own life more beautiful, as well.

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