I am officially tired of the Gospel of John. It's not that the readings during Holy Week aren't wonderful ones but I'd like to hear from Luke tomorrow. Ah well, that's not what we are mandated and, after all, it is Mandatum Thursday.
This I command you, to love one another. We would be happier probably if this commandment had followed something other than the washing of the disciples' feet. That is uncomfortable enough already without having it linked to loving. We understand how giving our infants a bath is an act of love but we aren't so sure about how washing our teenagers' sneakered, sockless feet might be the same act of love.
And then there's all those other feet in church with us. Sure we love each other but that doesn't mean we want to touch everyone's feet. Jesus doesn't particularly care if we want to or not.
Jesus tells Peter that refusing to have his feet washed has no part of Jesus. Jesus washes the feet of all twelve disciples, too. He doesn't pass over Judas but treats him with the same love he has for all the others. Jesus washes all the feet because he loves all of the disciples and he knows that in some way or another, all of them will let him down, even betray him, that night.
There are two great acts in the service on this night. The first is the washing of feet, something we are all encouraged by our Lord to do. It is a symbol for us of our servanthood and reminds us that humility is a good thing. It also says to the one whose feet we wash, you are loved, loved by the one who first washed feet and loved by me. As you wash someone's feet, think of all the people you love enough to do this for. Then think of all the people who have betrayed you in one way or another and ask yourself if you could wash their feet.
The second is coming together to share in the Eucharist. This is something we do all the time in the Episcopal Church. It is the action that brings us close to our Lord as we honor his command to Do this. It is also, for Christians, as holy as Passover is for our Jewish brothers and sisters. It is a clear sign that God is with us, that God saves us from ourselves. As you come to the table to take the bread and to drink the cup, look at those who are there with you. Remember that Jesus came to earth for all of us, that there is no one at this table who is lesser or greater than the next. We are all loved intensely by the God who created us, died for us and rose again that we might live.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Whereever there is charity and love, God is there. Footwashing and feasting, charity and love. May they fill our hearts and spil over into our actions.