Thursday, March 24, 2005

You don't understand, sir. You don't want to wash my feet!

I was asked a couple of weeks back if I would be willing to participate in the parish's foot washing ritual on Holy Thursday. I laughed because, pastor may be loving and all, but you do not want to be exposed to my feet. Trust me.

But I said yes, I'll do it. If everyone turned down every request, then no one would do anything. I was able to get home early and take care of the feet in order to present a more pleasing foot.

It was an interesting experience. My wife and I had been discussing this whole bit about people herniating discs just because women's feet are being washed. We were glad our parish is much different than that. So at Church, the usher came up to me and explained the logistics, "After Father says, 'will the gentlemen getting their feet washed come up please' then . . ." An intense wave of sadness came over me. I generally don't get bent out of shape about anything in the liturgy, but this hit me.

My first impression when we finally did get called up was the immense akwardness at seeing all men up there. They had done a great job in diversifying the 12 of us, but I was not at all happy. I'm glad I did it, but I don't know if I ever want to be part of that again if it remains exclusive.

This is not about women being priests, it's about washing feet for God's sake! What is the big freaking deal?

Anyway, what strikes me about Jesus washing his disciples' feet is the shock value. He really was doing something that he really shouldn't have been doing, for who he was. Jesus' act made such an impression because of the degree of condescension he subjected himself too.

And in closing, unrelated but in the anticipation of the desolation of Friday and Saturday:

Lamentations 2:11-17

11: Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
12: They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom.
13: What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?
14: Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.
15: All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?
16: All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.
17: The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.


Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Our church did it different last night, surely to upset some people as not being liturgically correct. Whatever.

We washed each other's hands. One by one. And it connected me to the Gospel in a way that the traditional rite never did.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Ono said...

That's the spirit, I think of what the washing is to be about.

A parish we used to attend also does something unique. The priest actually washes everyone's feet. Everyone comes up and there he is washing feet. It is a powerful symbol.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I understand your frustration. My wife left a branch of Lutheranism that doesn't let women read, distribute communion elements, usher, or, in some cases, vote in church elections. They're only allowed to bake, teach Sunday school, and clean altar linens.

Sure Jesus chose only male disciples, but there is ample evidence that the sometimes had early church had female leadership.

As I read the gospels, it becomes more clearer to me that Jesus didn't set up a two-tiered Christianity, with women at the bottom.

Maybe that's why I put up with some pretty light theology in my denomination. Our bishops, despite some really soft theology, are loving, gracious, and welcoming to all.

Just some thoughts,


12:33 PM  

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