I hate feet. There, I said it. I don't like anything about them. I don't want to see them. I don't want to touch them. I hate feet. I might have seen one or two pairs in my whole life that were fairly cute, but for the most part...no. Mine are no exception. I don't do foot massages, so don't ask. I like having my feet rubbed, but I pay someone to do that so that there is no fear of having to return the favor. Did I mention I don't like feet? But...
There is one time during the year when I set aside my hatred of feet for a little kingdom work. Maundy Thursday. It's the Thursday before Easter...the beginning of the Triduum...the Big Three...Holy Thursday, Good Friday, through to Easter Sunday. There are lots of special services during these three days, and one of them is the Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) service...which, if you are so inclined, just happens to include a service of foot washing. Have I mentioned that I hate feet?
Once a year, or once every other year if I rotate the Maundy Thursday service with a Seder meal, I gather up tubs and towels, a little splash of bleach in some warm water, not my good jeans in case the bleach water splashes on me (bleach because I hate feet, but I hate germs even more, and bleach is lethal to germs), line up a couple chairs, invite the ones that want to have their feet washed to come up, and I wash them. I did say that I hate feet, right?
Why do I do it if I dislike it so much? I do it because Jesus did, and it's one small self-sacrificing gesture that I can make to love folks on his behalf. In the book of John, Jesus does this for his disciples. Now, let me take just a second and mention why that was important. Folks then didn't have Sketchers, Shape Ups, Work boots, Rockports, or anything like that...they wore sandals. The roads weren't paved, they were dirt. Sandals + dirt roads = stinking, dirty, nasty, ugly feet. Therefore, the teacher didn't wash feet, the slaves did. As soon as you came into the house, if the host was a good host, a servant would come and wash the dirt of the road off of your feet. It was a gesture of hospitality.
So, this one night, Jesus got up, took off his good robe, wrapped a towel around him, knelt down in front of each of them, and washed their dirty, nasty, stinking, ugly feet. Jesus. The Son of the Living God. First Born of all creation. Author of the Universe. Second person of the Trinity. Took a slave's place and washed the dirt off of their feet. Dang it Jesus, why feet? Have I mentioned that I don't like feet? Couldn't you have washed their hands?
So what? Why is this important? It's what he said next that makes this important. He said that since he had done this for them, they should do it for each other. Not necessarily because their feet were filthy and nasty, but as a sign of love and humility. That's why I do it. I set aside my disgust at touching someone else's feet to remember that I'm not all that.
Where I stand each week, it's easy to get the big head. Several of my colleagues have fallen victim to that and developed a sense of entitlement with their position. Jesus would throw a fit about that. But it's more than just washing each other's feet. This is why we feed the hungry, why we serve as volunteers, why we go out of the way to help. It's HIS example that we're trying to follow, and I just think that from time to time we need a reminder. I know I do.
So, I wash feet. I could just wash one set of feet and then have that person wash the next person's, but it wouldn't be the same. I wash all of the feet. I can't think about it or I'll wig out, I just do it. Thank God I can serve in other ways most of the year, I don't mind at all. But I have to say that, for me, washing feet is the most powerful example of loving each other in his name.
Here's the challenge for today...find your least comfortable area and then find some way to use it to serve others. It's humbling. It's powerful. It's kingdom work.