God knows, by now it has been drilled into us how important it is to wash our hands so we can protect ourselves and our neighbors from spreading disease. Hand washing is almost a religion unto itself, what with the regularity of practice and the accompanying singing. We haven't given our feet much thought, though. Except, in my case, to mourn the sad state of my pedicure.
Over the last couple years, one of my favorite services at SMC has been the Maundy Thursday meal and footwashing service. I have always loved footwashing since my time worshiping in the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Manitoba, where it's practiced somewhat more regularly than in other Mennonite denominations. It's a tactile time of worship that allows us to engage the story of Jesus and our commitment to service and to each other with our bodies. It is an intimate and caring act that we can do for each other in community. (One of my favorite reflections on Maundy Thursday here.)
At SMC it has been special because particularly in recent years we have been intentional in making it simple and accessible to families with kids, which also has meant that as a leader I've been able to participate with my own kids, and that it's been okay to be a little less formal and a little more loose.
I don't think that this informality has made it any less meaningful. Certainly not for me and definitely not for the smallest person in my life. Regularly - maybe once a month - since last Maundy Thursday that person has asked whether it's footwashing time. It never is, of course, until now. But now we won't be able to gather with our friends to serve each other in this way. It is a real sadness for me.
That is why I wanted to create a liturgy - still as simple and accessible as possible - for families like mine to practice at home. Options for a family of one to as many as are in your household, reading the story or reflecting on an image. Even washing hands if feet aren't your thing. I am comforted by the knowledge that even in our separate places we'll be sharing something of this day of loving service.
You can access the liturgy at the google doc if you want to give it a try. We won't be with our church this year, but in the meantime here is a picture from last year that still delights me and makes me tear up a little.