Thursday, April 05, 2012

Wash Feet

He told me he comes to the church on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for coffee sometimes but chooses not to shower. "My feet got hurt," he said as he looked for the right English words to form with his mouth that more readily speaks Spanish. He then continued to point out a scab on his hand and say the word, "sore." It was enough to tell me that his feet had broken out more than once after showering in a more public place.

We carry a lot of stuff on our feet.

I notice regularly in the locker room at the gym the lengths women go to in order to protect their feet. They will walk around naked as they brush their teeth and dry their hair. But they will never allow the bottom of their feet to touch the ground. Every inch of their body will be exposed with the exception of the bottoms of their feet.

We carry a lot of stuff on our feet.

But tonight Jesus washes feet. In one of his final acts of servanthood he sat down with a basin of water in front of him and washed the feet of his disciples. He caressed the dirty, cracked skin. He touched a few sores. He embraced a part of the body that we are not quick to embrace. He then told those who were listening how we should do the same. We are invited, beckoned, mandated to wash feet.

But we carry a lot of stuff on our feet. And our neighbors carry even more stuff on their feet. My shower is a safe place for my feet but I'm not so sure about yours. You can get a lot of sores on your feet, and I don't want to get your sores.

I can come up with all kinds of excuses for why I should not wash feet. As I sit on my computer typing with a warm cup of coffee while still in my pajamas at 8:3o on Maundy Thursday morning I am convicted as I remember how several people got out of their beds well before 5:30 in order to wash more feet when the shower ministry opened at 6:00 this morning. Perhaps being there this morning would have been a more faithful sign of my love for Jesus on Maundy Thursday than gathering in worship tonight.

But I can come up with all kinds of excuses for why I should not wash feet. While there are some people who are easy to hug - some that I even hug twice each Sunday, there are others who are not so easy to hug because I know they are not quite so clean. It's hard to stay clean on the streets. But Jesus tells me to wash feet, and he did not tell me to only wash feet that are as clean as mine.

What would it mean for us to do one thing today that brings us one step closer to honoring this final mandate? How can we be good news to the poor today? Are we willing to put ourselves in a place where God can use us by touching someone who does not regularly get to experience the gift of touch? Are we willing to allow ourselves to be smudged a bit so that someone else can be refreshed and made whole?

"So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." John 13:14-15.

Dear Jesus, your teaching is hard. It is not always easy to follow you. As we continue through these holy days that lead to your cross and resurrection, bring us closer to you by bringing us closer to our neighbors. Amen.

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