Whose feet are in your basin?
One of the earliest Baptist groups found in Scotland from 1765 were known as the Scotch Baptists. Unlike our churches today they regularly practised the Christian tradition of foot washing following Jesus example in John 13 and taking literally v15 “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Today foot washing in the Christian tradition is still regularly practised by Mennonites and Anabaptists and a few of our Scottish Baptist churches will on Maundy Thursday or at some point over the Easter weekend take off their socks and shoes and dip bare feet in a basin.
Rev Bruce Milne points in his commentary on John 13 to two different purposes of this gospel story. Firstly he sees it as a “vivid illustration of the way of salvation” and secondly as “a powerful demonstration of the secret of communion,” to which I want to pose the question; whose feet are in your basin?
As a believers Church in Scotland I want to ask, whose feet are we washing and who are we allowing to wash our feet? I am still convinced that most people in Scotland today are seeking authentic community, a place to know and be known. A place to find comfort, security, purpose, acceptance, hope and many other life affirming gifts. We are called as God’s people to be intentionally relational. Within our churches, both at the core and the edges, there are people who are seeking authentic relationships with those who claim to be “in Christ.”
In washing the disciples feet, Judas included, Jesus is demonstrating the depth of his love and the nature of our response to his love if we will humble ourselves to accept his rule in our lives. The raw materials for the church is that of helpless sinners transformed into humble servants, confident of who they are in Christ and trusting that our Father God is in control, just like Jesus.
To call Jesus our teacher and Lord, as the early disciples did, means allowing our habits, actions and attitudes to be transformed by Him. To choose his descending way, repeatedly demonstrated in his birth, life and death, and to choose to follow His command to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Henri Nowen wrote “The further you descend, the more your eyes are opened to the brokenness of our humanity.” It is in that place we find grace for ourselves and grace to share within the Church at its core and edges.
Washing one another’s feet may not be a practise that catches on soon but let us receive the grace afresh this Easter that permits no exceptions to those we are willing to serve, nor make exceptions of those who offer to us their service in Christ.