Foot washing is one of the go to images of diaconal ministry, the image of being servant. Following Jesus example from his last supper with the disciples, kneeling to take the humble position of service. Foot washing is something we are not always the most comfortable with. Bearing our feet for washing is a vulnerable act. In a normal year not everyone likes to show off their feet, let alone have them touched and washed by another person. This past year where we have refrained from almost all kinds of physical contact foot washing can feel even more like a foreign and vulnerable activity. Yet, there have been many ways we have been living out foot washing in our daily lives throughout the past year.
This year has taught us a lot about meeting people where they are at. About meeting people in their isolation and in their need. We have all responded in different ways, from those who have made phone calls to friends or family who they knew were alone or isolated. Those who have gone shopping for neighbors who have health risks. Those who have started or supported feeding ministries of varying types to help those finding it hard to make ends meet. All of these, and many other things in-between and beyond these, are forms of foot washing in our daily lives. Acts of love and service to those who are in need of love and care.
This year has also taught us how a basic everyday activity can become a sacred act. We wash our hands to help prevent the spread of germs, and to protect ourselves and others. Washing our hands has become a sacred act of loving service to each other.
As we continue on I hope that we can continue in these sacred acts of foot washing in the world. To see those who are isolated or alone and reach out a hand of connection. To see those who are suffering or abused and reach out a hand of compassion. To see those who are overwhelmed and reach out a hand of presence. To see the dirt caked feet of our weary world and bring water to cleanse and nourish. To see each other and reach out in humble service and love.
May we be made aware of the places we are called to wash the feet of a weary and broken world. And may we love the way Jesus loved.
John 13 (selected verses):
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you…. 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”