When my girls were babies I used to love to give them baths. To marvel at their fingers and toes- pink and beautiful. And babies love their feet. They enjoy looking at them as much as we do. They are a source of joy. Sometime after that though, I am not sure when, we stop thinking that. We learn to think of our feet as something to be covered up, not exposed. Something for which we need props. Even the bravest of us get pedicures. Feet are somehow not beautiful.
And so when we hear that Jesus washed feet on the last night with the disciples, I wonder how many of us would be in the church today if the way we remembered Jesus each week was to wash feet?
Yet here we are with this lesson, and every year for the past three I have preached on it. Maybe some day we’ll wash feet. But not tonight.
We hear that Jesus gathered the disciples for a meal and for conversations and that he loved them to the end. And he is entirely in control.
And slowly, he took of his robe and all the things that identified him as a Rabbi and a Teacher and a Leader. Set them aside. And there he is, wearing only a towel and holding a basin of water.
And he begins, kneeling and crawling, from person to person and washing their feet. And it’s odd and uncomfortable. And we can’t imagine.
It’s odd and uncomfortable. And yet Jesus knew where their feet had been. Those feet were dirty and calloused, perhaps scratched in places. Walking without the best footwear, and walking on the paths animals also trod. And animals do what they do- and the feet bear it- dirty, damaged and stinky feet.
And he goes to person after person. And maybe deep down we even want to say, “Get up, Jesus!” We don’t want this.
As beautiful as it is that tonight we are celebrating 6 kids making first holy communion, and it is beautiful, we want communion, and Easter! Not Holy Week and washing feet.
Like Peter we want to say- no way! Yet Jesus loved them to the last.
To the very last one. Even Judas had his feet washed. Be still. This is for you. Even though you don’t understand it.
In humility and service, in love and intimacy, Jesus loved. Showing there was nothing that stood between us and God’s love.
He loved who we are- people uncomfortable in our skin.
He loved people knowing where there feet had already been- the times the feet had walked away in argument,
the times the disciples said they would do something and then didn’t.
The time feet walked to a meeting to agree to betray for 30 pieces of silver.
Those feet were cleansed.
As Jesus keeps showing intimate, no holds barred love.
Knowing where the feet will go. Yet saying- you belong to me.
And you belong to each other through me.
And the message for us as ever is that we are exposed, but we are loved.
It’s a gift we almost don’t want- we don’t want to be that known and exposed. And yet, it’s the gift we most desperately need- to be renewed and cleansed by real intimate love.
A love that challenges everything in us and yet is whole hearted.
This is what we long for, isn’t it? Isn’t this why we are here?
To experience THIS love?
God knows us- we are exposed. Yet loved. God loves the real us.
It is uncomfortable, and sorrowful, and leaves us in humbled awe, and hopefully joy.
This is the love we are then challenged and empowered to share.
Love one another like this.
This love- This is Christ for us, Christ with us.