Maundy Thursday, April 13th

By: Maggie Leonard

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Reflection—v. 5, wash the disciples’ feet and wipe them

This past spring, I had the great privilege to walk across Northern Spain along the ancient pilgrimage trail known as the Camino de Santiago.  Each day I rose before the sun img_20170220_135036_637and walked an average of fifteen miles a day.  There wasn’t a body on the path that didn’t take a beating, our feet receiving the worst of it.  We stayed in hostels each night—the root of the word originating in the word  hospital, the trail’s original shelters where weary travelers were welcome to stay to rest and heal.  About midway through, I stopped at a hostel wherein the host (the Spanish word shows the association between hospital, hospitality, the the person who offers hospitality) took to heart the historical significance of her position and establishment.  She welcomed pilgrims into her office where she inspected their feet, cared for their blisters and ailments, and dispensed materials and advice for continuing to care for them going forward—all free of charge.  It was a humbling moment to have her face inches from my foot, popping blisters, and cleaning the wounds. Her care was invaluable.  This week, a group of nine women gathered at Mercy and graciously cared for the feet of our weary walkers—many members walk 15 miles daily in the city to meet their needs. The Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic is that beacon of hospitality, liberation, and compassion in our city.  We are honored to be partnered with them and washing feet weekly at Mercy.

Prayer Guide our feet, holy God, that we may be moved to show your care to all.

Maundy Thursday, March 24

By: Chad Hyatt; Photo by: Katie Archibald-Woodward

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Reflection—v. 15, you should do as I have done to you

I had never seen a crowd leave Mercy so fast as when we first made a call to participate in a foot-washing. There are many 10452865_882827814096_1211610408821214291_oreasons we are uncomfortable with this command of Jesus, especially for us in our community where so few of us have the ability to give our feet the care that they need. I think we all have something in common with Peter, who stopped Jesus, later on yielding, as Jesus knelt before him to wash his feet. Not only that, but we—us and Peter—have something in common with Judas who was uncomfortable at another foot-washing earlier in John’s Gospel narrative, as Mary washed the feet of Jesus. He objected to the extravagance of the grace Mary was lavishing upon Jesus. In these two stories of foot-washing, situated so close to one another in John’s narrative, we see a model of the self-giving mutual love that is at the heart of the kind of community that Jesus is calling us to become. And we see vividly, whether we identify with Peter or harbor the closed heart of Judas, how we resist such mutual and vulnerable love. Even if we initially resist this vision of our common humanity, where we are called to serve, love, and care for ‘one another,’ may we, like Peter, reconsider.

Prayer God, help us welcome the extravagant, mutual love that is your gift to us.

For more of Katie’s beautiful work, check out:

Maundy Thursday, April 2nd

By: Maggie Leonard

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Reflection—v. 5, ‘…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…’

It takes humility to allow someone you respect to wash your feet.  It takes humility to get on your P4170402knees and wash someone else’s feet.  All around, foot washing can be pretty uncomfortable.  Early on at Mercy, Chad tried to have a foot washing service, and as he tells it, it was the first—and only—time that the whole room cleared out while we were still open.  Since then, we have had beautiful foot washing services during Holy Week with self-selected participation.  We who walk the streets and have few opportunities for bathing probably have feet that look a lot like those of the disciples.  We have dried skin, in-grown toenails, sock lint galore, blisters, and swollen ankles.  Bearing more skin, we put our vulnerability on display.  Sometimes a foot washing is just the first step; epsom salt baths and trimming nails might follow.  Like foot washing, when we serve one another it ought not be superficial.  May our raw need be both visible and helped because we are willing to serve each other.

Prayer  Jesus, help me to wash the feet of my sisters and brothers.