Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Foot-washing for the layman


Here at Vicar School we had a day on the media - and very good it was too!

One of the tasks was to prepare for presentation a two minute broadcast for radio on the topic of the foot washing. This would be for BBC Radio 2, at 6.30 am and with a target audience of lorry drivers and other early starters.

So, here goes:

Now then: feet.

Aren't they gross?

No, really. Aren't they?

I could never be a chiropodist. There is something deeply unattractive about feet. If ever I was an actor called upon to do a nude scene I'd have to have a foot double.

Spreading midriff? Well, that comes with the territory I supppose. I can live with that - and the man-boobs too, but feet?

No way!

We've reached the point in the Christian calendar when feet are in.

Big time.

Today Christians celebrate the occasion when Jesus washed his disciples' feet and some churches act that out with the vicar washing the feet of the congregation.

What's that all about?

I was quite uncomfortable the first time I ever saw this done but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Really?

How?

Well, think of it like this: forget about feet. What unpleasant thing would you be prepared to do to show how much you cared for someone?

Well, it's like that. Simple as.

The disciple Peter tried to resist Jesus washing his feet. I like Peter. I didn't like the vicar washing my feet. It didn't seem right. And yet it makes real sense this week in the lead up to Easter. Jesus does something loving and humble for those he loves and it confuses and upsets them.

Later this week we remember a more significant event where Jesus does something else for those he loves and again it confuses and upsets them.

He goes to his death.

Jesus washed his friends feet as one day, when I'm a vicar - dispite all my misgivings - I will too and, in doing so, I will stand in for him.

I will do something seemingly off-the-wall but at the same time deeply personal and intimate and yes, something a bit unpleasant.

Why?

Because its not really about feet is it? Jesus wanted to say something about himself: about compassion, about love, about friendship and committment...and about the fact that he was going on to do something even more disgusting to do with love, compassion, friendship and committment.

Die.

So, other people's feet: corns, bunyons and the ugly rest. And what am I left with now?

A vision of another's feet: bloodied, bruised and nailed together to a piece of wood as a way of showing love.