Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week... some more thoughts


I should have posted more thoughts on Holy Week... but I have been busy as pretty much everyone else I know. For some reason its a pretty hectic few days.

Been thinking about Jesus washing the disciples feet... as recounted in John 13
He got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, "Master, you wash my feet?"

Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."

Peter persisted, "You're not going to wash my feet—ever!"

Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing."

"Master!" said Peter. "Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!"

Jesus said, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you're clean. But not every one of you." (He knew who was betraying him. That's why he said, "Not every one of you.") After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

Then he said, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
This kind of scares me. I have Hobbit feet... and the last thing I would want is for someone to wash my feet. Its just not a pretty thought. The pic above is the closest you'll get to my feet.

Although it scares me... the symbolism fascinates me... because the Lord has turned on its head the whole world value of hierarchy. Regardless how we package it up... authoritarianism... flat structures... meritocracy... the world loves hierarchy and structure. We need to know our place... and, more importantly, for others to know our place. The world needs its leaders... and its followers.

The Lord isn't necessarily telling everyone to wash each others feet... He is teaching us to serve. To lead from behind through our actions... putting people before ourselves. Sure a servant isn't ranked above his master... but in this life who is our master? God... and His will for our lives.

I was at a church on Monday. A church I don't think I want to go back to. A cold, unfriendly church where hierarchy was apparent... and something powerful. I was with some friends... there to see our Brass Band play to a "Woman's Guild" gathering. We got hunted from "the top table" because that's where the Minister and her mother were to sit. We were, however, able to sit at the back... but were warned that we may have to move if there weren't enough seats for the "important people" aka our band. Fortunately we didn't need to move... but I was incensed by this.

Who is the most important person in a church? Its not the pastor/minister/clergy/officer... nor is it the congregation/fellowship/membership/soldiers... its the outsider... the first-timer... the wee lost soul who needs some help. I could have been that person... and yet I was privileged to be there... privileged to have a seat.

In essence we are all important! because we are all intrinsically equal... regardless of labels / status / wealth / fame etc etc... Woman's Guilds are no exception. As my grandfather used to say... "We are all Jock Tamson's bairns!"

We need to reject hierarchies and the nonsense power trips of the world and just serve. By giving away our lives in this way... we gain far more than we could ever imagine.

So I ask you... as you meditate on Holy Week and all its implications for our lives... our communities and the world as a whole... where can you serve? What can you do for God in the places you are? Whose feet can you wash?

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