A Commandment From God
Pastor Ryan - March 6, 2023
A sacrament is a means through which God acts and gives us grace. For example, in communion, Jesus commanded us to “do this” and through the bread and wine we receive grace. We hear the promise that this is “a new covenant for the forgiveness of sin.” Those three aspects: a command, an element (like bread and wine, or water for baptism), and the promise of forgiveness are three requirements for a rightly ordered sacrament.
Jesus commanded those who would be his disciples “you also should wash one another’s feet (John 13:14).” That’s one of the three criteria…
Jesus also used water and a basin to clean those feet. That’s two of the three criteria…
But there is no promise of salvation, forgiveness, or grace.
Foot washing is not a sacrament. However, it is commanded by Jesus, especially to his leaders. Christ intends us to structure our communities, not with the same hierarchy of the world, but as servants. “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant (Mark 10:43, Luke 22:26, Matt 20:26).
Following the command of Jesus (and the millennia of tradition set by Bishops, Pastors, Deacons, and lay leaders), we will be practicing this act of servant hood. On Mauny Thursday in Spirit hall, I will have a station set up that anyone may come and have their feet washed. The water is warm and it takes about 3 minutes.
If you’ve never had your feet washed by your pastor this could be a weird experience. If we look at the Gospel of John we can see that it seemed to be that way for Peter too. He joked that Jesus should wash all of him, not just his feet. As adults we aren’t used to being washed. But, of course, that's the point. Our relationships and interactions don’t look like our everyday goings on. We engage in acts because God knows best. We take time out of busy schedules to read the bible. We leave our houses on a Sunday morning to worship. We eat bread we call flesh and drink wine we call blood. Those called to be our leaders get on their hands and knees and wash our feet.
It is my sincerest hope that you make time to come into Spirit Hall before worship on Maundy Thursday, and participate in this ancient tradition.