Sunday, April 04, 2004

Who will wash these feet?

Feeling pissy, Satan asks, "For heaven's sake. If you're God, how can you demean yourself with their smelly, stinky feet ?"

Jesus looks at him with pity, then says, "Humility fosters love, both from the giver and the recipient."

"Oh, fine." Satan says. "Just continue with this 'humble servant' bit. See where it gets you."

"You will see," replies Jesus. He sighs. "Most of the time, my disciples don't get it, either."

This is a personal version of a Maundy Thursday meditation. It was meant to be read to you, as you relax in a softly lit room, or close your eyes:

A Maundy Thursday Meditation
based on the Gospel of John, Chapter 13.

This is a short Maundy Thursday meditation honoring Jesus’ ministry and
example of servanthood to us.

Please bear with me. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and regularly. Just breathe, in and out. In and out. Keep your eyes closed and imagine, as you breathe deeply.

Imagine that you are in Jerusalem, among Jesus' disciples. It has been a long week. Jesus came riding into the city as an honored prophet and much has happened. Many accepted Jesus as Lord and some continue their disbelief. Jesus has been saying some puzzling things that we do not understand, but tonight, we will relax and have this supper together.

It is the time of the Passover. As it is written in the Book of Genesis, "This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance."

It is the custom to bathe before coming to a banquet; therefore, we are clean except for our feet, which get very dirty on the streets and roads. Usually, a servant will bring water to wash the guests' feet before the banquet.

We came in, we disciples, and found our accustomed seats. We said prayers and sang songs just as we do every time we come together at the Lord's Table. Nothing seemed different tonight than any other night, except that Judas was gone, and except that tonight, there was no one to bring water to wash our feet, and no one volunteered. I thought about it, but didn't want to appear lower than my actual station, for I was a disciple, not a servant.

We proceeded with the meal. I was careful to keep my dirty feet out of sight. They discomforted me. I saw Jesus get up and wrap a towel around his waist.

I remember...

He starts to wash the disciples' feet. I draw back in embarrassment. I hear Peter protest, then acquiesce. I hang back in confusion, hoping to avoid notice.

Why then, Lord, are you now kneeling in front of me with a basin, a pitcher and a towel, like a servant? Are you going to wash my feet, too?

No, I can't allow that. I can't let you be like a servant to me.

I am shocked at the thought of it.

My feet are dirty. They are caked with dirt, for I have been on the road this day. My toenails are thick and uneven. The nails and cuticles of my toes are grimy. My feet are covered in thick calluses and dry, cracked, peeling skin. And dirt.

Lord, I can't let you look upon these feet, much less touch them. You were not meant for this.

These ugly feet are not a fit offering to the Lord. I keep them tucked back, hidden from his sight.

Kneeling, Jesus looks up at me.

Ask something else of me, Lord, and I will give it, I will do it.

I see love in his eyes, love for me; he is filled with love for me and I am smitten in return. I know that he understands my embarrassment, my pride that makes me want to hide these unattractive members from his sight. I understand that he already knows what to expect. He has seen -- there is nothing of me or in me he hasn't seen. He still loves me.

He looks at me through those eyes, and I begin to understand. Like Peter, now I want to ask to be washed all over. I want whatever will make me more worthy. But I understand. This is what he requires tonight.

Because you ask this, I will do it.

Hesitantly, I pull my feet from their hiding place and offer them to the Lord. His hands are gentle and soothing. The water sparkles as he pours it over my feet. I hear a soft murmuring and splashing of water.

Layer by the layer, the grime is washed away. The water is soothing, relaxing. I feel the blood moving through my feet, my hands, my heart. I surrender to his ministrations.

As each layer of soil is removed, I am renewed yet again. Jesus' hands are healing me as the water restores me. He holds my feet as he carefully dries them with the towel. The dirt and the old, dead skin are gone. My feet are clean and warm. I am restored.

Who am I that my Lord should tend to me as a servant? No one. It is his love, his love only, that makes me worthy.

I am filled with a deep peace.

Thank you Lord, for this gift.

This is what happened with the Lord on the night of Passover. He gave us a mandate to love one another, to be servants to each other. He gave us the example of humble service that we are to follow.

What I received from the Lord, I also hand on to you. Let me look upon you with Christ's eyes, see you with Christ's love, treat you with Christ's humility. Allow me now to follow Christ's example of servanthood. Please allow me to wash your feet.

We will be blessed if we do these things for each other.


I wrote another version, woven in with the Gospel, for use in a Maundy Thursday service.

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