Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Original Blog Post: January 4, 2011- Washing Feet

Communion is celebrated in many different Christian denominations.  It can be a burden for some and it can scare some away but for me it has always been a powerful reminder of the price Jesus paid on the cross and who I am in Him. 

Our church combines a footwashing element with the bread and wine (juice, as the case may be), following Jesus' example with His disciples during the Last Supper (see John 13:4-14).  This is almost more powerful for me then the actual taking of the bread and wine.  There is such an honest humility and servitude that comes with washing another person's feet. 

I have witnessed and been a part of so many moving experiences during this part of the celebration.  There was the time when a friend I was at odds with crossed the imagined mountains between us and when we knelt before each other the mountains had miraculously been moved, times when those society would deem beautiful would seek out or be sought out by those our society would deem unlovely and as they washed away the dust of a summer day the labels would be washed away too, times when, as feet were washed, a song rose from the lips of many different generations into one voice and the barriers that kept us apart suddenly didn't seem so real or so important.  God moves at times like these.

This last Sabbath, as we celebrated New Years Day by observing the communion service, I was given the gift of the most meaningful footwashing service.  Adam and I took our children with us to the footwashing area so they could at least observe what we did even if they didn't want to or weren't ready to participate.  Our oldest watched and prayed with us then ran back to our seats in the sanctuary.  Our youngest watched quietly and just before we left the area he said, 'Do it too!  Me too!'  Adam and I looked at each other for a moment.  We both had to be up front, we both had leadership roles in the service.  We could easily have said, 'Not now, next time.'  But we couldn't.  We quickly took off his shoes, his braces, his socks. 
As Adam started to lower his little, crooked, spindly feet into the water my mind flashed to the story of the Pool of Bethesda.  John, in John 5, talks about this pool where all manner of people with disabilities would wait for the water to move.  The Amplified Bible, in verse 3, describes the people as 'some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)'.  It was believed that the angel of the Lord was moving the water and the first person to touch the water would be healed.  He goes on to describe a certain man who had been suffering for 38 years.  Jesus goes specifically to him, 'knowing he had been a long time in that condition' (verse 6) and asks him if he really wants to be healed.  The man doesn't even answer the question.  He complains about no one being there to help him get to the water.  In my mind, I hear the man's thoughts wondering if he sounds pitiful enough if this man and his friends will help him get to the water the next time it moves.  Surely with all these people he'll definitely make it first!  Then Jesus answers the true cry of his heart and heals him!

The point is, the man is touched not by the water of the pool but by the Living Water and instantly he is healed.  What is Jesus purpose for this man?  Why does He heal him?  In verse 14 it says Jesus found him in the temple later and points out that he is healed and tells him to stop sinning or 'something worse will happen'.  This is not a threat from Jesus, He's not saying, 'Shape up or else!'  He's letting him know there are worse things that could happen to you then being crippled for 38 years.  Do you see?  The purpose was not so he could have the few rest of the years of this life in relative ease and comfort but to change the direction of his life for eternity. 
This is what I wish for my boys.  That they would be touched by the Living Water and so realize that they are worthy and acceptable and capable because of Jesus love for them, not because of what they can or can't do, not because of the people they know or don't know, not because of their wisdom or skill or strength, but because they ARE, they exist. 
This is my wish for me too, and for you.

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