Thursday, April 5, 2012

Washing Feet

Mostly, I don't like washing feet on Maundy Thursday. 

I don't like it for a number of reasons.

Theologically, I don't think it carries the same meaning it did for Jesus and his disciples, for whom the act was a combination of humble servanthood and hospitality.  On the other hand, it does seem to cause a lot of people embarrassment.

We don't use our feet as our main mode of transportation these days.  Feet don't get nearly as dusty and dirty.  I try to imagine, only somewhat successfully, what the water must have felt like to those whose feet were sore and dusty and dirty from all of the places they had been and all of the things they had done.  It's not the same.

Practically speaking, whenever we wash feet, I have to call a few people on the telephone and ask if they are coming to Maundy Thursday services and, if so, if I can wash their feet.  Mostly, people say 'no,' because their feet are ugly, or they just have this thing about feet. 

And yet.....

Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you."

It's so tempting just to leave it at those words.  But Jesus didn't do that.  He made the words real by bending down and washing his disciples' feet.  He made the words real by bending down, bending over, getting down on his knees.  He made the words real by looking at each of his disciples, looking them in the eye, making them feel both refreshed and shocked at the same time. 

If these three great days are about anything at all, I hope they are about keeping love real.  The services where we tell the story are not the means simply to manipulate emotions, but they are means to hear the story, and make it real in our lives, and for the sake of the world.

If we do it right,  the world will be both refreshed and shocked.

Triduum:  washing feet, carrying a cross, falling down and getting up, keepin' it real for the next three days.

"Love one another as I have loved you."

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