We don’t often wash feet these days, it’s just not the done thing. It is too personal, in people’s personal space.
I invite you to accompany me to a busy street on a Saturday night. The noise from dance clubs greets you, deafens you, at every corner. Groups of people, dressed not for the cold night air but for the warmth of the club, boisterously move along the street. Queues snake from clubs, waiting in the cold night air. Many are enjoying the night out, aided by copious amounts of alcohol. Many are struggling to cope with life, attempting to banish those thoughts of possible inadequacy by drinking copious amounts of alcohol. It is nigh on impossible to decide who is who, what are the circumstances.
What a contrast from church…(?)
One person lurches to rest against the wall, and vomits. The smell is powerful, the sound makes me wretch.This man, open shirt revealing a muscular chest, starts to cry. A hand is placed on his back, “we are here, can I help?” He looks up briefly and tries to understand who would want to help someone who is now covered in sick. A wet wipe is used to clean the sputum from his lips, a tissue to wipe his nose – it reminds me of wiping my children’s noses on a walk on a cold winters day.
The man says he is feeling better but needs to get back home. Unfortunately the taxi will not take him in such a state, trousers splattered, pebble dashed, with vomit. More wet wipes are applied to the trousers and shoes. We sit and chat, not in judgement, but listening to his story, allowing him to retell what he is feeling, allowing him to hear it for himself.
We walk him to the taxi rank and persuade them that he is ok to be taken home.
To help clean someone from the debris from the journey along life can come in many various forms.
Others may have gone out with high heeled shoes – they looked so wonderful in the shop and walking about the bedroom, but at 3am and with a little bit of alcohol, walking now is difficult. They decide to take off those fashion icons but trouble beckons for broken glass litters the pavement. “We have flip flops” we say. “What!” they respond.
We offer to help them put on the flip flop – even if they are wearing tights there is a way. They walk off, as if on the beach, protected from the shards of glass on their journey home.
It isn’t strictly foot washing but to me it is the closest I have ever come to administering ‘foot washing’ in today’s context. It was in such an example where I heard God’s call to ministry, where I could serve others, encourage others, to minister to others following Christ’s example. That call was strong, powerful. If people are not coming to church to hear of God’s love them we need to be prepared to show that love to all whom we meet wherever we are. As a Deacon, my calling is to consider the situation to where I am sent…..and respond,…..to serve and to minister to all.
Jesus refers to washing people’s feet after they have walked all day. The dust, muck and grime encrusted onto their feet which needed to be removed. We may still enact it to a degree by taking off our shoes by the front door. To help clean someone from the debris from the journey along life can come in many various forms.
To clean someone up after drinking too much; to sit with someone with a cuppa after they have broken down because of a life situation; to offer to pray with someone unsure in their circumstances; to handing someone a hankie when all appears lost but there is someone still who will listen and care may be today’s example.
Where can we wash someone’s feet in the weeks to come?