The liturgy for Maundy Thursday includes the option of foot washing. I had never experienced this part of the liturgy until seminary. I also remember the opposition to it, when I introduced it in my first parish. “We aren’t going to do that again,” the Council President told me.
The washing of feet is central to the story. Jesus is at table with his disciples; he removes his garments, takes the bowl of water, and washes their feet. He asks them to reflect on this. He tells them that this is the kind of leadership they are to emulate. The master is also the servant.
The world has very clear ideas about what it means to be the chief officer. Something within us pushes us toward the top and assumes that being at the top brings privileges. Jesus turns that upside down. Jesus instructs us that to be the master is to be the greatest servant of all.
The word “Maundy” derives from the Latin word “commandment.” On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus gives us a new commandment. “You are to love one another as I have first loved you.” We show this love by being the servant.
Our evening liturgy will include the washing of feet. It will feel a bit odd and maybe even uncomfortable. But it is a wonderful way to experience the commandment given to us by Christ. Find some way, in your devotion to God, to experience the same.