PRACTICING COURAGE IN THE WILDERNESS
Based on Living Compass “Practicing Courage with all your heart, soul, strength and mind”
“Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
The plot of Holy Week begins to pull downward, but tonight, we are with Jesus around a table with friends. Tonight, Jesus washes feet and breaks bread and commands his disciples to love; the mandatum is to love one another.
In our tradition we don’t usually wash each other’s feet, though I usually invite someone to come forward and wash one other person’s feet. It’s not something we do in our culture and foot washing can feel tender, but also awkward or even gross. Whether too intimate or too weird, for most people there are more reasons not to volunteer to get their feet washed.
By washing his disciple’s feet, Jesus was teaching about servanthood. But for us it seems like a strange ritual that has little meaning in modern life. It invites us into a kind of vulnerability too and so requires a bit of courage – both to have your feet washed and to be the one who washes.
Maybe this is exactly the point. Courage, if we follow Jesus, is not about being safe or cool and collected, or avoiding all things awkward and weird. Courage and love in Christ means taking the risk of being vulnerable and real. Loving and being loved is awkward—as awkward as foot washing, as awkward and odd as a man holding up a piece of bread and saying, “This is my body,” as awkward as crying alone in a garden while your friends sleep, as awkward as being hung on a cross. And yet it is love, awkward and risky, that leads to new life, and to the most strange and awkward moment of all: an empty tomb.
Whether or not you choose to participate in the ritual of foot washing, meditate today on what it means that Jesus offers himself to serve you, to host you for dinner, to wash you, and to love you. What does it mean to you that he is willing to be awkward for your sake? What awkwardness, in turn, might you be willing to risk or attempt, also out of love, in your own life and relationships?