Washing of Feet

          Prior to attending seminary, I owned and operated a deli/bakery business. Needless to say, as in any restaurant, there were always dishes to be done. One of the ways we saved space and money was to function with a three-hole commercial sink instead of a commercial dishwasher. As an owner, one of the jobs I committed to doing, was washing dishes. Before I come off as a wonderful owner, you need to know that I do like to do dishes. I find it therapeutic. But, one of the main reasons I continually did dishes, was to be clear that it was an important task, and that no one was "above" doing dishes. It may have even been one of the most important jobs in the business.
            Maundy Thursday, as we gather for our evening service, we will have the opportunity to wash someone else's hands, and have our own hands washed by someone else. In a time when we are concerned about the transfer of germs, this might be a real challenge for each of us. First, let me say that we will have hand sanitizer at each station, to ease our minds of sharing germs. But second, let me address the history of this ritual and why we might find it to be a meaningful experience.
            In Bible times, the dusty and dirty conditions of the region and the wearing of sandals necessitated foot-washing. Although the disciples most likely would have been happy to wash Jesus' feet, they could not conceive of washing each other's feet. This was because in the society of the time, foot-washing was reserved for the lowliest of menial servants. Peers did not wash one another's feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love. When Jesus moved to wash their feet as we read in John 13, they were shocked. His actions serve also as symbolic of spiritual cleansing (vs. 6-9) and a model of Christian humility (vs. 12-17). By washing His disciples' feet, Jesus taught the lesson of selfless service that was supremely exemplified by His death on the cross.
            Although there are churches who do foot washing as part of Maundy Thursday, we have tried to make it less "scary," by washing hands. This is not a ritual we do daily, or even at every Sunday service. But it is a yearly reminder of how important it is to serve others, for us to recognize that there is no task that is done by class, and that we each might be moved in some way by stepping outside our comfort zone.
            I hope you will join us Thursday evening for our Maundy Thursday service, and I hope you will take a moment as you enter to have your hands washed, or to wash a friend's hands. Jesus wants us to be in service to others, and not just when we are in our comfort zone. It just might change your day, your attitude, or your life.

~ Eldonna Hazen

Posted on March 27, 2018 at 10:33 am in Featured Content.

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