Notes from Jan


April 10, 2023

By today most chocolate bunnies are hard of hearing after having their ears nibbled off. As one who needs hearing aids, I empathize with any who struggle to hear. Listening’s another matter. Words can go in one ear and out the other, depending on our state of mind or heart. Take the disciples, for example.

As much as I love Easter and all it stands for, today I’m looking back to our Maundy Thursday service. The Reverend Dean Pedersen gave the sermon, focusing on the Last Supper and Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Dean challenged us to join the Royal Order of the Towel. Like Jesus, we’re to humble ourselves and choose to serve, rather than be served.

That same night, more than two thousand years ago, as they gathered for the Passover meal, Jesus gave them good and bad news. “In this world you will have trouble.”(that’s the bad news) “But take heart. I have overcome the world.”(that’s the good news, as recorded in John 16:33) As Jesus spoke, what stuck? Or what went in one ear and out the other? And speaking of trouble and ears, a little while later, Peter lopped off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus.

For sure, the disciples still didn’t grasp all the words they’d heard from Jesus. Nor, did they understand why he washed their feet, including the feet of Judas, the betrayer. But, like Father Patrick reminded us yesterday, ALL of the disciples betrayed Jesus. When the going got tough, they all abandoned him that night. Peter denied he ever knew him.

And that’s partly why I’m still pondering that night. A short while after Jesus washed their feet and shared important words with them, the unthinkable happened. Judas on freshly washed feet, left the table to betray Jesus with a kiss. When it looked more like the world was overcoming Jesus, the rest of the disciples fled into the night on lovingly washed feet.

Well, we all know where Peter went on his clean feet and how he denied Jesus three times. What’s with our feet? Frederick Buechner wrote, “When you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”

For sure, a few days later, Jesus, showed up on feet punctured by nails. For some, seeing is believing. But Thomas needed to touch, too. And so Jesus took Thomas’s trembling hand and guided it to the deep scar on his side and to the nail gouged scars on his hands. And Thomas must’ve remembered when those hands cupped his feet and tenderly washed them. No wonder after seeing, touching and remembering, Thomas cried,” My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

The Bible doesn’t say it happened like this. But I think that one by one, these disciples fell to the ground and kissed the feet of Jesus. Feet they’d followed for only a few short years. And words returned to comfort and ignite them for the work ahead. What words?

“Do not let your hearts by troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14:1) ” My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.“(John 15:12) And they did and full of the Holy Spirit, they took to their feet and began telling the Good News of who Jesus was and is. They taught, preached, healed and changed the world.

As for the likes of you and me on this Easter Monday, maybe we need reminders, too. After all, we’re the recipients of their faithfulness and the prayers of Jesus and others. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. Jesus prayed for his disciples that night but added, “My prayer is not for these alone. I pray also for those will will believe in me through their message.” (John 17:20)

Now, it’s up to me and you to remember what we’ve heard, read and experienced. And then, to tune our ears to listen to the whispers of God’s Spirit. Oh, and to keep an eye on our feet. Where we go and Who we follow can make a world of difference.

As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ ” (Romans 10:15b)

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  • Reply dale April 10, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Jan and good to hear from you as always. I know you are out there and thinking of us! There probably is nothing more humbling than washing another person’s feet. In fact, I barely can face looking at my own. For some reason, the toes seem to be the first to go or at least the nails. I can imagine the feet of the disciples rarely received a spa treatment and that what Jesus saw was humanity in need of some basic cleansing. Thanks for the reminder! Love, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 11, 2023 at 8:24 am

      Oh, so true, dear Dale. It’s an act of humility to allow some one to wash my feet and an even greater act to do the washing. I watched tearfully as the Pope washed the feet of juvenile offenders in Rome. Your comment on “Jesus seeing humanity in need of basic cleansing.” spoke to me. We think BIG. Jesus met BASIC needs…feeding, cleansing, healing, touching. But all to point us to our greatest need for forgiveness and reconciliation between each other and God. I still miss times with “my” Michigan Marty and Dale but am grateful for ways we’ve stayed connected as friends over the years.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy April 10, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Jan, this is one of your B.E.S.T. !
    Written with truth, clarity, compassion. I’m putting this writing on my dresser lest my ears become itchy and I forget your powerful words.
    I love you, dear heart!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 11, 2023 at 8:38 am

      And I love you, dear Valerie. Well, it spoke to me before I wrote to you. All the years I read the story or heard it preached, I never connected how soon after experiencing Jesus as their most loving, vulnerable leader/friend/Lord, they distanced themselves from him on CLEAN FEET. I get why they were afraid. And I get why Jesus cried, “Is there another way?” Then, the great NEVERTHELESS,”not my will but thine be done, Father God.” And in the end, it’s not our ears or feet but our heart that moves us towards or away from Jesus. And God’s heart that never stops loving us, for no earthly reason. Amazing Grace!

  • Reply Jeri April 11, 2023 at 7:01 am

    Amen and amen! Thanks for sharing so masterfully and with such clarity., Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 11, 2023 at 8:42 am

      And a JOYFUL Easter season to you, Ron and your family, dear Jeri. Aren’t we blessed to know and be loved by Jesus, the Risen Christ. I love Springtime. It’s so full of HOPE and surprises popping up from the ground. Things we thought dead are suddenly sprouting up from the earth. Imagine what it was like for the disciples to see Jesus show up! Shock and JOY. May God surprise you in some way today, dear Jesi, reminding you that Jesus lives today.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe April 15, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Thank you for these FOOT NOTES, Jan. I look forward to hearing from you – and God – in each post you pen.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 15, 2023 at 9:41 am

      And thank you, dear Maggie. As always, I look forward to reading your posts,as well. You know how to encourage and connect heart to heart.

  • Reply Wendy April 16, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Such a beautiful, thought provoking and challenging post Jan! Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 17, 2023 at 12:46 pm

      It was for me, too, dear Wendy, and continues to “provoke and challenge” me. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. It does me good to see your name show up. You’ll always be one of “my Gordon girls.”

  • Reply Wendy April 17, 2023 at 12:58 pm


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