So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me, 'Teacher' and 'Lord.' You say so correctly, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:12-17
Listen to: Kirk Franklin, "My Life Is in Your Hands"
Friday, March 6 is "World Day of Prayer." WDP is an international, ecumenical, lay-women led initiative. It Involves worship, reflection and prayer, with the understanding that listening and learning with one another are vital aspects to our prayer life. Prayer must open us up to one another. Prayer ultimately leads us to take action, whether it is to make changes in our personal lives or engage the world in more just and peaceful manners.
This year, our sisters in the Bahamas are leading the World Day of Prayer. They have picked the theme, Jesus' words to his disciples after he washed their feet, "Do you know what I have done for you?" Jesus performs a powerful, prophetic act by washing his disciples' feet. In the days of dusty Palestinian roads,when people wore sandals, it was custom for the lowest servant to wash the feet of the guests. It was a common gesture of hospitality -- to remove the dust of the day so one could relax and enjoy a meal, the conversation and be comfortable. Jesus stunned his disciples when he stooped down and willingly stepped into the servant's lowliest role: removing the dirt and filth from the feet of the guests. Peter gives voice to the disciples' shock when he says to Jesus, "Never at any time will you wash my feet!" (John 13:8). They had never seen an esteemed rabbi/teacher/leader embrace the work of a slave.
For Jesus, this is what love does. Love serves. Love goes out of the way. Love volunteers for the nitty-gritty "dirty work" of caring. Love understands that to make a difference in someone's life means a willingness to do what may not come naturally. So love enters another's life on their terms. This is what Jesus did when he took on human flesh, when he wrapped that towel around him and began to wash his disciples' feet. More important for us, Jesus left us specific instructions: We are to wash one another's feet.
So we are asked to prayerfully reflect on how God is leading us to "wash away the anxieties, the dirt of the day" from each other? Sometimes we do this by being that gentle presence. We do this by praying with and for one another. We do this by listening carefully, asking questions, getting to know what others are going through. We may not use water, but through our touch, our words, through kind deeds, setting an example, or through advocating and building bridges we wash away the grime of the world that can cake and encrust our feet.
Do you know what I have done for you? Jesus asks. Jesus just didn't wash feet. He loved. He loved so much that he was willing to do a radical act that pushed the envelope. Do we know how much Jesus has done for us?
How does Jesus' call to washing another's feet make you feel?
Prayer: "Servant-God, help us willingly to "wash one another's feet." Show us what this means in our world today."
Here are additional links to the World Day of Prayer Bible Study and tips for action.