Will we dare to have our feet washed?
A touch stone for people who find themselves confronted with someone in need or in a conflictual situation, is to ask ‘what would Jesus do?’ My normal answer is to say, ‘he would wash feet.’ I do get some strange looks when I give that answer. But I think there is some truth in it. In a couple of weeks time we will celebrate the great Easter feast which begins on Holy Thursday with the washing of feet. When Jesus was under incredible pressure as the tide turned against him and he was about to be betrayed, he picked up a towel, bent down and washed his disciples feet. There is an irony in the fact that his call to love and forgiveness led to his betrayal and death. When the swords and clubs had gathered below the upper room, among all the choices that lay before him he chose to wash their feet. The act of foot washing was the ultimate act of service. He couldn’t seem to get it across to them in any other way. It was as if he was saying to them, ‘I will not have any part in your games of violence, hatred and envy.’ He would only play the game of loving service.
So, when I say ‘he would wash feet’, I guess I mean that he would find some way to continue his ministry of proclaiming that God is love and human beings are made in God’s image and likeness. What that actually means in our lives is for us to work out. We don’t imitate Jesus in the sense that we just mimic what he said and did. We imitate Jesus in the creative way that we love and serve one another. None of us does it in exactly the same way.
By washing feet on Holy Thursday we are associating ourselves with the kinds of things that Jesus stood for: justice, forgiveness, healing, inclusion, peace, reconciliation, and conversion. And we are rejecting the things that put him to death: greed, envy, ambition, fear, judgement, hatred and violence. Once we align ourselves with the ‘foot washer’ our particular responses to any situation are not prescribed they are creative. We are called to be as creative in love as Jesus was – right to the end.
Therefore, on Holy Thursday we do what he instructed us to do in order to unleash the creative love to which he calls us. That symbolic action on Holy Thursday is incredibly powerful. This week we are calling for volunteers to have their feet washed during the Holy Thursday ceremony. If you are coming along we would love to hear from you. To have our feet washed is a sign that we are prepared to be a part of the creative loving service of the God of love. No one ever wants to step forward and have their feet washed. That is true from St Peter’s protest to Jesus – ‘you will never wash my feet’ – right through to today. But by doing so we are opening up the possibilities for love to abound!
If you are coming to Holy Thursday at one of ceremonies at Deepdene, Camberwell or Surrey Hills and are prepared to have your feet washed and to wash someone else’s feet please sign up today.
The full list of our upcoming Easter Celebrations is on the front page of our website.