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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Footwashing


I ventured to Sturgeon Bay today. This the first time I’ve wandered out since wearing masks has become expected. I felt unnerved, unsettled, uncomfortable. From behind my own mask, I stared at people longer than should be polite, but I was convinced that I should know someone, I just couldn’t recognize them. I don’t like that everyone has become a stranger. I want a mask that has the lower half of a smiley emoji or a frowny emoji or an LOL-ing emoji just so people know that I am feeling something—be it joy or sorrow or laughter. Our faces express so much.

Today marks Archduke Harrison, the Better, Chief Pontiff of All of the Moravian Churches in Liberty Grove’s favorite day. He decreed that this day now be known as Monday Thursday. He likes the rhythm and the confusion.

Some of us may still use the term ‘Maundy Thursday’. The day named as such because Jesus offered a ‘new commandment’ (in Latin mandatum novum). Jesus commanded the disciples ‘to love one another as I have loved you’.

Paired with this commandment is the footwashing scene in the Gospel of John. Protestants, for the most part, eschew footwashing. I find it laughable that a church that gave us Biblical literalism should steadfastly ignore one of the things that Jesus literally said, ‘I have set for you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’

Footwashing in my ministry has been largely limited to camp situations. My sainted sister-in-law Ginnie, could not stand feet—her feet, other people’s feet, baby feet, pictures of feet. Everything about feet grossed her out. On the occasions we used footwashing at Camp Hope, Ginnie would somehow disappear for just long enough to miss the event.

It seems a cruel joke now—sweltering teenagers, just getting to know one another, peeling their sweaty socks off their sweaty legs and reusing the same water and towel to rinse someone else’s feet. The lesson usually pertained to servanthood.

But now I wonder, if the lesson wasn’t more about intimacy. Not just for sweaty teenagers, but for Jesus disciples. We make a lot of assumptions about a band of brothers (supported by a larger number of women). We assume they shared the same tents, the same plates, the same dirt, the same funk of desert living. Was Jesus trying to make them more than servants mimicking his actions? Was Jesus forcing his disciples to invade each other’s personal space—to get comfortable being uncomfortable?

That is the commandment Jesus offers us…get comfortable being uncomfortable; do to others as you would have them do to you (or better); go and do likewise; do as I have done to you; take eat, take drink; love one another, just as I have loved you.

Upon further consideration, maybe EVERYTHING Jesus did and said was designed to make us uncomfortable, to get over ourselves, to invite us into a life that was never intended to be comfortable.

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10924 Old Stage Rd, Sister Bay, WI 54234

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