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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wash My Feet, Please!



Several weeks ago, I thought I had made an incredible discovery.  I was going to call it the eighth sacrament.  I was really excited.  But as I sat on it and continued to contemplate the implications, it occurred to me that it was more of an extension of baptism and an outward sign for confession.  So, I'm not sure it's number eight, but I am sure it's important.     

John 13:3-17: Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.  When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

If baptism is the seal of sonship (daughtership, childship, etc.), the initiation into the people of God as a part of the Church, the declaration that we are the beloved; surely the washing of feet should follow.

Once the whole body is clean... may I go as far as to say, once the whole body is drowned... the grace of belonging to the family has been imparted.  We belong to God, we belong to the Church, we belong to each other.  But we still get our feet dirty.

We still get our feet dirty, because once we're clean we keep walking.  And most of the time, we don't walk on water.  Sure, some of us wrap our toes in socks and shoes and arrive home at the end of most days looking no worse for the wear.  And by some of us, I really mean some of you, because I'm just not that good.  I'm more of a run through the dust in my flip flops on a regular basis and pull them off, altogether, when I realize I'm ankle deep in mud kind of girl.  I understand Peter's panic.  "Hey, Jesus!  I think I might need you to take a look at my hands and head, too!"

But Jesus makes a really interesting turn here.  He emphasizes that the feet are the issue (where did you journey, today), and then he empowers the disciples to continue to wash one another, to continue to serve one another, bringing blessing to both the giver and receiver of such grace.

Outward sign, inward grace, instituted by Jesus...  Go wash feet...

L.

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