If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. + John 13. 17
I remember last year sitting in a Maundy Thursday foot washing service. We were at a Methodist church in my neighborhood sharing the duties for a night of Room in the Inn, an emergency shelter program that houses our community’s homeless in churches across the city every night of the year.
I watched a friend of mine who grew up with my grandfather wash the feet of the adopted child of good friends of man. An old man hunches over to wash the feet of a young man who has become a part of a family I care a great deal about. I remember sitting in that room of the sanctuary off of Forest watching my grandfather’s high school classmate wash the feet of my friends’ adopted son. I was sitting in the pews next to our homeless guests who had decided to join us.
Something felt very surreal and very holy.
Tonight, one year later, I found myself sitting in a Maundy Thursday service at the church I have called home for the last several months. I had my feet washed by a very good friend, and found myself remembering one year ago and the ragtag company and heavenly connections that found themselves mixed together in that sanctuary dimly lit observing that evening where that last supper was had in that upper room.
And I know, more than anything, that there is something very serious about this ancient practice that really makes no sense. Water poured over my feet tonight and poured over the feet of the son of friends one year ago by a classmate of my grandfather whom I miss deeply.
And there is some connection with the water and the flesh and the candlelight of what it means to lean into some way of life that makes no sense, and yet not leaning into makes even less sense when we still ourselves to try to evaluate it. And I watch online as friends ands acquaintances wait for pastors and priests and authors to tell them how to draw lines and what to think and where to make a stand on issues of politics and moral legislation.
And I wonder what it would mean to hear men and women push, more than anything, to follow Christ into the practice of washing the feet of those who will betray us, those who will deny us, those who will hurt us and embarrass us. There is a sense of fake honor in standing up against those who disagree with us, but there is a sense of real humility in washing the feet of those we desperately want to join us int he journey in the dark. this journey in the dark that we hope, Lord help us, is a journey toward the light.
To know is one thing. To wash the feet of another is wholly other. To humble ourselves and serve others in our own awkwardness and powerlessness is wholly other. We can know a great deal, or think we know a great deal, about what it means to follow Christ, but to actually do it is wholly other.
Beware those who announce they are doing the hard thing by drawing lines in the sand. And pay careful attention to those who say little and wash feet much.
To know is not to be blessed.
If you know these things, and do them, you are blessed.
Pine Tree Dr.