Foot Washing and Holy Communion April 13 2017 Audio
Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. Jesus got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of his friends, drying them with his apron.
In this fourth gospel, we hear the story that takes place during the last meal that Jesus spends with his friends before his death. Jesus washes the feet of his friends, and asks them to do likewise. In this gospel, John, points us to two central activities that show us who we are. Washing one another's feet, and eating together. God provides for God's people, which calls to mind the reading from Exodus, and God's people serve one another. So it is significant that this is what we do as we participate in these final days of Jesus' life. We eat this meal together, and we wash one another's feet.
Imagine having been at this particular Passover meal. Hoards of people have arrived in Jerusalem for the festival. All clamoring for a place to eat the meal. You, being a friend of Jesus, are in this room, with these people, reclining at this table. Bartholomew, James, Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, John, Mary, Thomas, James, Joanna, Philip, Matthew, Susanna, Thaddeus, Simon, and all the other men and women and children who were gathered that night. The meal is spread before you, the unleavened bread, the roasted lamb, and the bitter herbs. And in the middle of eating the meal, Jesus gets up, he takes off his robe and ties a towel around himself.
How odd, how extraordinary. He pours water into a basin and begins to wash everyone's feet. They surely needed washing, there are no clean feet in all of Jerusalem after a day of walking about, gathering supplies for the meal, visiting friends and relatives. But who does he think he is? That job is not his, it is the servant's work.
We call Jesus King. A King, who does servant's work? Something here is astoundingly different. Something here shows us what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Wash one another's feet. Love one another by serving each other.
I’m always wondering about sacraments. You remember, the outward sign of an inward grace. And I've been thinking about those outward signs. Water...oil...flame....bread....wine....
But other things too, wind... dirt.... seeds....
You see, I think this the way God shows up in our lives, in the acts of hospitality, in the ordinary water, and bread, and wine, made extraordinary by the love that gives it. Hospitality is at the center of all we do, all we are. God welcomes us into God’s kingdom, Jesus washes our feet, Jesus gives his body that we may be put back together again, that we may be healed. We are welcomed to this table, not because we are perfectly put together, but because we are made new.
Sometimes life's events feel so big, and wide, and broad, and overwhelming. In our news these days there is so much tragedy, we have been held hostage to fear, and the pain of life sometimes causes us to shut ourselves down and stop paying attention, we may even despair. But the joy of life brings us soaring to the mountaintops. And much of life is lived somewhere in between, in the mundane sacramental moments of making dinner for those we love, playing with our grandchildren, or driving our children to dance and music class, or doing our taxes, or taking a bath, or dreaming our dreams. It is in the ordinary Jesus shows us sacred. In the muck and mess that is washed from our feet.
In the ordinary meal, our cracks are filled, our fissures healed, we are made whole. In the mundane washing, we overflow with mercy and compassion. Jesus seeps into our very being, washes us, feeds us, heals us. Jesus shows us who God is, and Jesus teaches us whom we are.
Let me wash your feet, take this bread, and you will be healed. Jesus offers love, and forgiveness, healing and compassion. And Jesus shows us how to do what we are called to do.
On this night, the night Jesus is handed over to be tortured, betrayed by his friend, Love really does win.
The violence perpetrated on Jesus is hard to hear, hard to watch, because you and I are implicated in it. We have not been perfect. We have judged, we have bullied, we have missed the mark. We have offered ridicule when mercy was called for. We have fallen asleep when we should have paid attention. But, we are loved perfectly. Love still wins.
The gift we are given this night, mercy and compassion, foot washing and food, hospitality and wholeness, washes over us, nourishes us, puts us back together. We are re-membered. Come and receive the gift. Come, and remember who you are. Come.
And then go. Go invite others to the banquet. Go, wash the feet of those whom God loves, those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are different than you.
Wash the feet of those whom God loves, whose feet are most difficult to wash?
Wash the feet of those whom God loves, from whom do you need forgiveness, whom do you need to forgive? Wash the feet of those whom God loves, you will be re-membered, you will be healed. Wash the feet of those whom God loves, you will be a part of the healing of your world, you will witness to the truth,
Jesus shows up in the bread, and in the wine. Jesus shows us how to wash one another’s feet. Eat the bread broken for you, drink the wine spilled for you. Wash one another’s feet.