Washing Feet: Guest Post by Matt Herzberg

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Matt Herzberg, LIRS Manager for Congregational Outreach
Matt Herzberg, LIRS Manager for Congregational Outreach

Today, I’m delighted to share a guest post by Matt Herzberg, LIRS Manager for Congregational Outreach.

Many of us will gather in our congregations for worship tonight and participate in the practice of foot washing, mimicking the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The story is a staggering display of humility and a reminder that we are all God’s children with no one greater than the other. And this annual tradition of foot washing in our congregations is always necessary, always relevant, always emotional, but often a bit….

uncomfortable.

There are very physical things that contribute to this: the water can be cold or you’re a little bit ticklish. But more often, we are trying to process some uncomfortable emotions as we wash the feet of someone new or let our feet be washed by a pastor or neighbor. Even in the passage from 13th chapter of John, Peter doesn’t quite know what to do with the situation, protesting the washing at first and then asking too much a second later.

This display of love and the call to show this love to everyone is something we struggle with in our daily lives. To act with this care, which we know to have no boundaries, is intimidating and a little uncomfortable. When we come together with migrants and refugees to wash each other’s feet, there might just be language barriers or unfamiliar traditions. There will be difficult stories shared of unique journeys. But we are challenged to move beyond our hesitations and our fears. These uncomfortable moments are opportunities for learning from each other, for growth, and for humble acts of service to one another.

You can start today in your communities and your congregations. Give warm greetings to someone you normally walk past. Complete a task at work for someone that normally does things for you. Volunteer to wash the feet of a stranger at your Maundy Thursday service this evening.

But don’t stop there. Many of us will read tonight from the same passage in John to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are called to be in relationship with each other, to walk alongside each other, and wash each other’s feet along the way.

If you and your congregation are interested in getting involved with LIRS, have general questions, or want to learn more, reach out to Matt at mherzberg@lirs.org.

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