Asking people what is the saddest day in their lives opens the door to the sacred. Ask kids, and they will give you the same answer: the saddest day is “Back to school” after a school break. I didn’t know that Back to school is one of the saddest phrases in the English language. According to www.dictionary.com, Back to school are the three words that most kids loathe (unlike their parents who think Back to school is the happiest day).
I’ve met two boys from our neighborhood last night before the Ad. Council meeting. First, they took off like they wanted to go down the street toward Francis Street then they stopped. Two teenagers talked about something and turned around. They looked sad and lost. I greeted them, recognizing one of them, who joined our youth back in October for the Fall Party, and asked if they needed help. Both boys politely declined my offer and walked away with sad faces. Those kids in our neighborhood become adults too early because of the reality of their lives. Obviously, much heavier things were in their minds than Back to school. It’s not even a Spring Break yet. I was sad that they didn’t allow me into their sacred.
For Christians, today is the Saddest Day. Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday is an alternate name for Holy Thursday, the first of the three days of solemn remembrance of the events leading up to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.” As recorded in John’s gospel, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34).
Maundy Thursday is the saddest day because Christ loved humanity to the end and in full humility welcomed his death on the Cross. Historically on this day, Christians demonstrated compassion towards the poor: until 1689, there was a custom of the monarch washing worshippers’ feet in Westminster Abbey. Food and clothing would also be handed out to the poor. Pensioners from local communities received “Maundy money.” Maundy Thursday sets up the tone for Christian compassion and love.
I looked at the teenage boys walking down the street and wondered what their story was? Talking to kids at Carden Park School, Mary Buckler and I learned that most of the kids come from extended families with five and more children. Some of them sleep on the floor. Many of them do not see one of the parents and do not know much love. It is so much pain behind the sadness in their eyes.
How could we build trust with those kids, who face the hardship of life too early? Tonight, if we had those children with us in worship, they could hear the words of love directly from Christ. It could be an amazing revelation for each of them to hear for the first time that God loves them so much.