Thirty Eight.Two: Footwashing is Gross

I find footwashing to be incredibly awkward.  It is so mutually uncomfortable for myself and the poor person seemingly called to wash my feet.  How can this be considered a spiritual practice? 

It is a practice that screams vulnerability.  Particularly when I’ve been walking around all day in my shoes and socks that have holes in them.  Yet, when called upon, I manage to get the courage to do the unthinkable.  Let someone else touch my feet and wash them.  Still, incredibly awkward.  But upon completion I find that humility is fully and completely the point.

In 1st century Palestine feet were very dirty.  Those folks weren’t rockin the converse all-stars or throw back addidas shoes.  They wore sandals and got their feet dirty.  Very dirty.  It was for slaves to wash the feet of nobility and higher class folks upon entry into a home.  Footwashing was a true act of a servant. 

 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. – John 13:5

Jesus, the Son of Humanity, washed the feet of the people who followed him.  A true act of a servant. 

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and washing the feet of those who followed him was a game changer for many folks.  It revealed who Jesus was and revealed who God was.  As God is active today, we get to participate in that revelation today.  It speaks to how we in the Christian community are to treat one another and interact with the world around us.  Imagine if we take our call to servanthood seriously…

In my opinion Maundy Thursday is one of the most important days as we walk with Jesus to the cross in Jerusalem.  It is the point in the journey where we recognize that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.  The divinity of the Last Supper, and the humility and servanthood of the footwashing reveal who Jesus is and the dangerous journey on which Jesus was about to embark. 

May we be blessed by the poetic and beautiful tension of Christ’s divinity and humanity.  Go to a Maundy Thursday service.


  1. Paul Dixon · April 6, 2012

    Such beautiful part of our anabaptist heritage. I think there is something special about footwashing. It was a part of my wedding ceremony. More communities should involve this practice. Mutual servanthood is key in our understanding of being equal and being community.

    • chris lenshyn · April 6, 2012

      Totally. Extremely important. A symbol of serving one another!! Cool that you did a footwashing during your wedding!!

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