Views from the belfry

Feet things called feet washing, and others
So long as we can stand, our feet are always the lowest parts of our body. Not only are they closest to the earth, to dirt and dirtiness, but with each they touch dust. We don’t walk on our heads, after all. Today, when we walk people are surprised, either we have no money for the fare or we are stretching legs for the arthritis issue.
Feet washing was common in first-century Palestine, where people wore sandals to walk the dusty roads. Normally, people washed their own feet. Occasionally a disciple would wash the feet of a teacher as an act of extraordinary devotion (John 12:1-8). Let us appreciate the comparative humility and simplicity of feet washing and also underscore the shock and surprise of Christ Apostles when He deigns to wash their feet. Feet washing was ordinarily assigned to slaves, women, and children. Jesus’ feet washing foreshadowed the ultimate humiliation on the cross. Before carrying His cross, Jesus dramatically demonstrated this unconditional love and friendship by kneeling and washing the sweaty feet of His apostles.
Putting one’s head close to a man’s feet is inherently not a dominating position. Still Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, even Judas’. Peter almost declined. They routinely have their feet washed by their inferiors and they were not embarrassed. But for many of us now, it is not even appealing to bare our feet to the gaze of others. We fear the humiliation of having other’s see, touch and criticize or judge our feet.
The feet are humble and simple parts. When Paul contrasts the highest and lowest members of the body – recognizing a hierarchy while affirming the priceless value of both to the whole- he seizes on the head and feet. In his words, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12:21-22). The feet are not simply lowly. They are also indispensable and in their own way honorable and respectable. A single member of the body embodies the whole. If your foot hurts you, even the little toe, the eye looks at it, the hands grasp it, the face puckers, the whole body bends over it, and all are concerned for this small member; again, once it is cared for all the members are eased and benefited.
As we tend to one another in body as well as in spirit, may we be fit to walk closer to Heaven, where at last all of us will rest our feet together beneath the banquet table of the Lord.


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