Have you ever had a sore back and really felt like a backrub would be the ticket for you, or have you ever felt like the thing that would really help your disposition and tired body was to set in a hot tub with good jets? A little bit of comfort is a relaxing experience when you’re tired, a place to unwind and enjoy a reprieve from pressures and problems in a world that can sometimes be exhausting.
Perhaps you have experienced a long day, and your feet are sore and tired. And, what if somebody takes some extra time and washes your feet tonight and gives a short foot massage. If you give the person washing your feet permission, then go for it. This is the underlining message of the foot-washing narrative of Jesus with his followers. It’s summed up in the theme of Jesus message and mission. For the Son of Man came not be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
There is a progression in our service to God and to others. Jesus serves us, and we in turn serve one another. That’s a principle underlying many New Testament writings. Love the household of God. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2)
And then, in the progression, we are instructed to take this love of Jesus and serve others outside of the four walls of this building, outside of the comfort of your localchurch, perhaps to those outside of your faith tradition. What does that look like? How do we do that? We share the love of God in practical and creative ways. One way many people in this church and other churches that work with our Joy Force food pantry is to share enough fruit and vegetables for a family for one week, along with non-food items like soap, toilet paper and dish soap to help stretch small budgets. That is a ministry of love. Serving others includes having prayer for all who will come forward in our bilingual Arabic/English Mass on Tuesday mornings. That means a lot to many people we serve.
Serving others means giving rides to those going to the hospital, or clinics, visits to the doctor, or other essential needs that involves time. Serving others is demonstrated through our Loads of Love Laundry Ministry, which provides free laundry for those“unhoused” on the streets and parks of our cities. Serving others includes those of you that take time each week to assist others to practice and learn conversational English at Table-Talk. Serving others can be practiced in many ways.
Feet are symbolic of our journey. When Jesus washed his disciple’s feet his message was this: “I am serving you today because that’s the type of leadership I am modeling; “to serve and not to be served”, and I am going to wash your feet, because your journey ahead of you will be difficult. Your feet will take you to places you have not been before, but I want to encourage you, to prepare your feet for this journey, so that you can continue your journey in the comfort of knowing that “I have come to serve you, and in the same way I am sending you out to serve others”.
We have a tradition here on Maundy Thursday or what literally means “mandate Thursday”, and we wash each other’s feet, it’s not time to take a literal bath, but it is a time to say: “Hey, I am with you on this journey, and you’re not alone. I back you on this journey. I want to walk with you on this road toward the New Jerusalem, to the City of God. We walk together. Even though we walk alone, we also walk in the company of others, sharing things together.
God wants us to have feet that will enable us to travel on this journey to extend the love of Christ to others, to aid them in their spiritual journey. If that aid includes foot washing, all the better. If that assistance means a meal and a coat, or a place to get out of the rain, then all the better.
“The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many”. (Mark 10:45)