Title: Mandates

Submitted by: Pamela B.

As the Christian Holy Week approached, I sat down to write down some thoughts about this pandemic and realized the intersection between “mandates” and “Maundy Thursday.”

P. Buchholz 4-5-2020

Mandates. So many mandates.
Stay home. Stay safe.
Stay six feet away.
It’s a mandate.
Wear a mask.
Don’t get together with friends.
Don’t go to your up north retreat.
Guidelines, yes, but
Said over and over with the urgency of a mandate.
Don’t hoard toilet paper.
Or bleach.
Or paper towels.
Or Tylenol.
Headlines in the paper that urge us to think of our neighbors.
Mandates. So many mandates.
No visitors at the hospital.
Not even if your husband has been there 8 days
And your heart is as broken as his.
No visitors.
Not even if your mother is dying and you
Need to kiss her one last time and say,
“It’ll be OK, mom. I’ll see you on the other side.”
Mandates. So many mandates.
Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery.
Don’t steal or bear false witness.
Don’t swear. Don’t even covet.
But do love God.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Mandates. Some thousands of years old,
Crossing cultures and religions and boundaries of time.
Then one Passover, just before the end,
Jesus gathered his special followers together for the Passover Meal.
Or maybe it was just a meal, memories get confused.
But this we know.


Just as they were ready to begin, Jesus stopped them.
Something had been forgotten.
Well, not really forgotten.
A hospitality mandate had been ignored.
No one had taken the servant’s role and washed the guests’ feet.
Jesus got up from the table.
Took off his outer robe and tied a towel around his waist.
He got the pitcher and basin.
Slowly he made his way around the room,
Kneeling before each of his friends,
gently bathing their feet and drying them with a towel.
The worries and arguments that had consumed them, ceased.
There was only silence.
Mandates. Mandatum – Latin for commandment.
Jesus said, “Today I give you a new commandment,
That you love one another just as I have loved you.”
A new mandate. A mandate for then and for now.
Easter is coming.
New life.
New hope.
New possibilities await and
We will see the sun rise on a transformed world

When we love one another as Christ loved us.