On most Tuesday nights I can be found on our property in a studio with a collection of women. Some of us come every week, some of us come when we can. There is one thing we all have in common, ok two things: We love Jesus, and we are studying the Book of John together.
This week my heart caught what my head had contained for a little under four decades. It has to do with an uncomfortable practice: Foot Washing. EEWWW. Foot washing is not something I am going to ask to do. "Pastor, it has been a while, please, can we?"
A good foot washing, well, do they exist? I do not like them. It sits in the category of "Uncomfortable Social Requests Within the Church Walls." It is akin to the pastor asking us to turn to the person next to us and after giving them a big hug, look them directly in the eye, and tell them how much we truly and really deeply care for them with the love of Jesus. Oh, boy. Awkward.
I have a feeling I am in good company. I can not tell you when the last time is that I was involved in a foot washing. I run in the right crowd, or do I?
I digress. The reason I need to study the Word of God with other women or people in general is because I need to be corrected, herded, and gently led to correct interpretations. I can not tell you how many times I have been way off. Though, if you and I are friends, I am sure you can imagine. This past Tuesday night was embarrassing as a dear friend kinda had to repeat a number of times what was truly going on in John 13, surprisingly enough, one of my favorite chapters. But, Tuesday is when it exploded into crystal clear focus.
Foot washing has nothing to do with salvation. These disciples were clean. It has everything to do with posturing, perspective, and living out a true picture of what is and what's not.
When I wash your feet I am affirming my position, my posture, my relationship with you. I am no better than you. I might have something to say to you, it might be profound, and you might want to take notes. But you and I are the same and furthermore I am only the messenger, not the message. The servant is not greater than his master. And the master washes feet.
When I am washing your feet I am saying directly to you, "I am your servant. I lead you by serving you. You and I are on the same playing field. I am no better than you. My desire to show you Jesus is to first let you see that I am nothing special, I am a foot washer of an infantry of foot washers. "
Jesus gave this example to his disciples the night before He was killed. He meant this. They would look back on this and sip deeply the meaning. Though He was God, He washed every disciples' feet. He, the Creator of every foot, washed them. Amazingly so, He washed the "bad guy's" feet as well. Foot washing is affirming a humble truth, I am no better than anyone, not even the bad guy.
This takes on a new level of meaning. This is a practice that allows for me to witness humility in all its truth. When I am bent over your feet I am telling my heart, "don't rise up in an attitude of superiority, stay down - Lynne Beth Treichler Burkholder. STAY DOWN."
Serve and serve the feet first. We serve well the brain, feeding it with knowledge, but if we don't wash the feet, we know diddley squat about serving.
This understanding led to sadness. Why am I not involved in more foot washings?