This is an olive wood carving I bought in Bethlehem back in 2015. Jesus is trying to wash Peter’s feet, but Peter is objecting (notice his left hand). This piece is in my den, on top of a small bookshelf, just below my Aggie diploma.
In some Protestant denominations Footwashing, along with Baptism and Holy Communion, is considered one of the Sacraments, acts of devotion, inclusion, and obedience, and means of grace.
A means of grace is anything through which the unearned love of God is received by a human being (or any creature – but I am only writing to human beings). A sunset can be a means of grace. A smile, a story, a joke, your children ... even a virus could be a means of grace, if that is what God wants it to be and we are able to receive it. But there are things which the Church has found to be the usual or ordinary means of grace: Bible study, prayer, worship, baptism, marriage, forgiveness and healing, and communion.
Obedience comes when we understand who God is and who we are. This understanding leads to the inevitable conclusion that it makes sense for us to obey God. In our Scriptures Jesus gives us direct commands to wash each other’s feet, baptize into the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Jesus himself.
These are acts of inclusion, because they draw others into our group of believers, as well as binding believers from all over the world into acts of common practice. They help us to become a family – the family of God.
These are acts of devotion because they remind us of who we are – we are the sons and daughters of the living God! These acts increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and spread our love – which is just what our world needs today!
Tune in for our Maundy Thursday Worship Service to hear more about footwashing.