On Sunday I told the congregation we will be observing Maundy Thursday with a meal and foot washing. Foot washing will be a new-to-us element in worship, so the initial response was the sound of crickets.
During Sunday School there were questions. "Does Scottsville have a pedicure place? Will we wash feet and THEN eat or the other way around?" We laughed and made some bunion jokes.
It's all good.
So why are we having a foot washing?
First: I understand your hesitance. Almost no one likes their own feet. Many of us have a hard time even wearing sandals! Since a foot washing allows someone to not only smell our feet, but also see our tootsies up close—it's a tough pill to swallow.
I get it. Before my first foot washing I painted my toenails and scrubbed my feet as if they were auditioning for a podiatry commercial. I was prepared.
The disciples, however, had no warning. There was no time for a pedicure, and too bad because their feet were probably caked with mud, excrement, bacteria, and more. Those were the feet Jesus knelt down to wash during supper.
The disciples were in need of a physical foot washing, but even more so—a spiritual washing. A foot washing reminds us Jesus cleanses us of our sin—from the “smallest” offense to the most egregious of errors. We, like the disciples, are cleansed by Jesus.
And as hard as it is for us to bare our soles to Jesus, it is much harder to bare our souls to Jesus...so we keep the smelliest parts of us hidden and hope no one notices the stench. In so doing, we miss out on the joy of forgiveness because we can't bear to be vulnerable...
which brings me to one of the reasons we're washing feet this Maundy Thursday. I am naive enough to think it may aid us in confessing our sins—that the act of being vulnerable with one another will aid us in being vulnerable to Jesus.
It's worth the price of discomfort.
Another reason: This tangible act is a clarion call to service. Jesus washed all the disciples' feet—even Judas' feet. There is no task beneath the disciple.
Maundy Thursday is an opportunity to remember John 13 together. It is also an opportunity to experience hospitality, love, and forgiveness. I challenge you, brothers and sisters, to consider joining us for this special worship service.