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[Moderated to remove link to blog]"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
I attended the Holy Thursday prayers at my church this morning and afternoon. It was a great time for reflection on the Lenten journey we have all gone through. Battling the inevitable hunger pains, we arrived at the "Laqqan" or blessing of the waters, where the water is blessed and prayed on, and then the priest symbollically washes the feet of the congregation by wetting a towel and putting the sign of the cross on the front of their lower legs. This of course comes from the gospel, where before the Passover, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, leaving some offended at the notion of a great teacher humbling himself to such a menial task, but does so as an example of what it means to be a true servant, and how we are to treat each other. For some reason, I had this thought in my head: I wonder what it would be like if we as a congregation actually washed each others feet. That it wasn't the task of the priest to put a wet towel to our legs, but that we could actually wash the feet of our neighbors in the pews.
I could imagine the discomfort. Many people hide their feet, it is a very sensitive part of the body. Allowing someone to wash your feet is in a way letting them see a not so clean part of you. For some they would rather have their feet covered, rather than show the world what they look at. Others are self conscious, while, for the most part, unless you've spent a lot of time and money in pedicures and such, most likely, you would not be quick to put your bare feet in the hands of another person in church, let alone let them wash them. On the flip side, how many of us would want to take the bare foot of a congregation member into our hands? I wonder what kind of congregation we would be if we were the type of congregation that could wash each other's feet.
It's not about washing feet, though, but its exposing ourselves. It's allowing someone else to clean us, to acknowledge our shortcomings, and to take the dirt and wash it away. I'm sure we can have no problem doing this with strangers, but what about with people we know well, who maybe have hurt us or fallen short of what we wanted. Or maybe for some of us, we don't want to be seen. We don't want our dirt and our filth exposed to our neighbor, even in the church, even if he or she has dirt of their own. It's being in a very vulnerable position, and putting ourselves in the hands of our neighbor.
These were some thoughts that affected me today. I hope after Lent, we can continue the dialogues out there on the net, in a better Spirit where we can follow that example given to us.