In my office are three angels which have been with me since I began ordained life at St. Alban’s, Harlingen. They came to me as a gift. Throughout the years, they have journeyed with me, living on bookshelves and desks in my various offices . One of the little old angel guys has his hands straight up in joyful praise of God. The other two are doing different activities: one, ringing bells, and, the other, feeding birds with a bag of bird seed in hand. They share one thing in common.
Each has one foot up raised in a high-kick position.
Some days I imagine them dancing along to the rocking, celestial sounds of the Kingdom. Today they seem to be walking. Taking a big, first step on a journey of joy-filled movement; carrying with them a joyful message. They are about to move forward – full of hope – stepping out in faith – walking towards whatever comes next. Their old, wrinkled faces glowing, eyes closed, hearts full of unspoken praises to their God, a whole, lifetime on a journey – beginning to end – that is a continuous act of praise.
I wonder – where have those old angel feet been? For what joyful purpose has God sent him? Where will God send those feet sooner or later?
What about our feet?
Are we ready to engage our feet in joyful movement to carry a joy-filled message? Do our feet move in hope towards the future? Will they step out in faith? Are our feet moving us toward God and whatever comes next? Do our feet move along in a continuous act of praise?
Have you considered all the places your feet have been? For what joyful purpose has God sent your feet and you? Did you go? Or did your feet wander off the path? Did someone or something lure you away or stomp on your toes? Did your feet freeze in fright at the size of God’s task before you? Where might God guide your feet sooner or later?
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another…as I have loved you.” (John 13.34)
“…as I have loved you…”
Jesus has just finished supper, the last one in this life with his twelve disciples. After supper he washes their feet. He kneels in front of his students, now friends, and washes their feet. I cannot imagine it was any more comfortable for them than it was for Jesus. But there are just some things only someone who loves us dearly can do. And Jesus loves deeply.
And Jesus is doing more than just showing love. He is showing them what love expressed through action looks like. Jesus models for them the future of their ministry. John’s Gospel portrays Jesus as one who lovingly serves others.
Wrapping a towel around his waist, Jesus takes in his hands each of his disciples feet and washes them. He washes away the dust of many days of traveling and teaching. He washes away the grime of worn out ideas and unhelpful notions about God. He cleans off the muck of prejudice and contempt of others who are different. He wipes away the soil of bitter disagreement and disillusionment.
What the disciples do not know as Jesus washes is that soon their own fear and betrayal will muddy their feet as they run and hide as Jesus hangs on his cross. They do not know that the Empty Tomb about 72 hours away will be a moment of cleansing, not just of feet, but of the whole being of every human. Jesus washes their feet not just to wipe away the past. Jesus washes their feet to prepare them for the joy-filled journey ahead. Jesus washes their feet to prepare them for a journey of carrying a joy-filled message to the ends of the earth. Jesus washes their feet to prepare them for a life of serving others as an act of praise.
So it is with us.
Jesus washes our feet to cleanse away the sins and hurts of our past travels. Jesus washes our feet to remove our worn out ideas and unhelpful notions; to clear away our prejudice and contempt of others who are different; to wipe away bitter disagreements and disillusionment. Jesus washes our feet to refresh and prepare us for our joy-filled journey ahead. Jesus washes our feet to prepare us for a life of serving others as an act of joyful praise.
Jesus washes our feet so that we will wash the feet of our brothers and sisters, sharing the grace and comfort of Jesus in ever-widening circles in our human family.
Let us pray:
Jesus wash our feet.
Wash away the pain inflicted by others on the road with us.
Wash away the shame of our mistakes and hurtful choices.
Wash away the stubbornness of our hearts that keeps us lost.
Wash away the pride and prejudice which limits where we let our feet take us.
Wash away the fears which cause us to flee.
Wash away our unfaithfulness.
Help us, Jesus, to take a big first step on this next stage of our journey of joy-filled movement; taking with us a joyful message. Help us, Jesus, to move forward – full of hope – stepping out in faith – walking towards whatever comes next. Our old, wrinkled faces and young, smooth faces glowing, eyes closed, hearts full of unspoken praises to our God. Teach us, Lord, to see our whole lifetime – from beginning to end – as a journey, a continuous act of praise, loving others as Jesus loves us.