I recall preaching on this one Sunday evening. There were about a dozen of us in the church hall and a stranger joined us. He was travelling on foot some fifty miles or so, sleeping rough, finding food wherever he could. I had been asked to preach on Jesus washing His disciples feet and as I spoke it was made crystal clear to me that the challenge lay in how we looked after this man. So we fed him, we gave him the hall to sleep in and gave him bedding. Early the next day he was gone and we never saw him again.
The message of Jesus is unequivocal: what are you/ we doing to serve rather than be served? Are we eager for God's blessing? ''God will bless you for doing these things'' Jesus states here. Generally, when we attend church most of us are being served, so where are we serving? It may be through some life circumstance-a frail elderly relative, a child with health issues-but it may require us to be pro-active, committing to working with refugees, the homeless, the poor, those struggling in one form or another. Even in a place like BoA, scratch the surface and all sorts of issues are in our community.
So, to the detail. Open, often ill-fitting sandals, caused all sorts of horrors for feet and it was vital, courteous and drudgery as a host to wash them. It would have been the job given to the newest servant or slave! The closeness of Jesus to His Father God, far from separating Him from others, brought Him nearer than ever to them. For us, the nearer we are to suffering humanity, the closer we are to God. The greatest holiness is not to learn Scripture backwards or preach superbly; it is to love the sick, the beggar, the refugee as to love Jesus, to see in them the face of Jesus. As Mother Teresa stated about the dying homeless she befriended: 'Each one of them is Jesus in disguise'. You and I must understand that we cannot claim to follow Jesus unless we are prepared to get messy!
The little altercation between Jesus and Peter reminds us of the necessity of baptism. Yes, it is embarrassing, yes, it can be stressful, but today, as in the early Church, the way in is the way of baptism. If you are able to be baptised and are too proud to do it, your pride shuts you off from the family of faith!
The words of 'Meekness and Majesty' sum it up well: Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity; In perfect harmony the Man who is God.
Lord of eternity, dwells in humanity, Kneels in humility and washes our feet.