On getting your feet washed

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Welcome to my ‘Layman’s Lectionary’ series where I stumble my way through the liturgical year and share my layman’s testimonies and confessions on modern culture and daily life as it corresponds to scripture.

Maundy Thursday
Click here for today’s Revised Common Lectionary readings.

It’s Maundy Thursday. In the tradition I follow, it’s the day we gather and wash each other’s feet.

[Aside] I pray that my church is well stocked up on Purell because I’m much more of a germaphobe than Jesus was (though, if he had Purell in his day, who knows…). I digress…

If we haven’t got the message about the one-way direction of love from God to us up until this point, this story should drive it home.

Here we have God personified in Jesus washing the feet of his disciples — some of whom he knows will blatantly betray him.

God’s Love…
One way. 
One way. 
One way.

(Sorry, I have to repeat this to get it under my thick skull and into my heavy heart.)

From the gospel reading of John

Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

That last part there, Unless I wash you, you have no share with me. In other words, unless you open your heart to my love and grace, nothing you do matters — no matter how self-righteous it may seem (my translation, of course).

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Though God’s grace only goes in one direction, it never stops with us.

The fruits of this grace are multiplied through the faithful souls that receive it (‘faithful soul’ doesn’t mean ‘someone who goes to church every Sunday’, it means ‘one who grasps for abounding and steadfast love from the Divine Other at the ground of their being even when they feel they don’t deserve it’).

So, my prayer for you is this…

May you allow your feet to be washed.

May you have enough faith to set aside all the reasons you’ve cooked up about your unworthiness. And may you humbly excuse any reservations based on rationale.

God’s love is never about value or merit. God rushes straight towards those whose hearts are weakened by not-enoughness and guilt. This one-way grace of God is the only force in the universe that brings new life out of nothing and for no good reason.

May you be washed clean.
And may you see how clean God washes your world through you in response to it.

Happy Maundy Thursday.