Love by foot-washing

I’m going to a foot-washing tonight.  Now before you say “oooo, yuck,” you should know that it’s fully biblical, with long roots in the tradition. Many Christians include a foot-washing ceremony as part of their Maundy Thursday service.  Indeed, one of the most radical acts Jesus performed on the night before his arrest was to wash the feet of his disciples (and you know those sandalled feet were good and dirty!).  After doing so, Jesus makes his intent clear.  In John 13:1-15, he says:  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

The symbolism is rich.   As Wendy Wright notes in her wonderful book The Rising: Living the Mysteries of Lent, Easter and Pentecost, “The one to whom we tend to look for leadership and in whom we invest authority is seen kneeling and tenderly serving. In the gospel account Jesus is quite explicit about the gesture’s meaning.  This is a new command.  Love a new way.  Love by caretaking. Love by being available to one another. Love by serving.  In a world which clamors for status and recognition, this is a countercultural statement.”

So I am going to a foot-washing tonight, to have my feet washed and to wash another’s in return.  Whose feet might you wash this day in response to the One who knelt down and washed ours?

About Deborah Arca

Deborah Arca is the Managing Editor of the Progressive Christian Portal and Book Club at Patheos.com.


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