Easter Sole

During Bible study classes I’ve taught, I may query the students about the three things Jesus asked his followers to go and do.

It’s a darn good Easter question.

Two answers usually come easily from the students: baptism and communion. (Or dunking and dining, to be flippant.)

While I won’t share lengthy insights about the profound theology and tradition of those rituals, few Christians doubt their importance. Whether a believer is liberal or conservative, traditional or radical, nearly all agree on communion’s reminder of holy nourishment and baptism’s call to a lifetime of discipleship. And so much more . . .

What about the third request?

Most don’t remember Jesus requested his followers to wash another’s feet. Maybe you’ve seen the Pope kneel to symbolically wash a few soles during Holy Week. Perhaps in your church you’ve done it on Maundy Thursday. Regardless of how it’s explained or remembered, ritually washed feet have lost out in “popularity” compared to dunking and dining.

I understand. We’re not a 24/7 sandal-wearing culture anymore. We’re well-heeled and high-heeled, Mary-Janed and wing-tipped, a people of many soles. A whole lot of folks, especially in contemporary American society, squirm over exposed tootsies. (Ohh, I’m ticklish. Arrgh, my toes are gnarly.) However, all flippancy aside, I’m grateful Jesus asked us to remember the humble act of serving another. Down and dirty, sandal to sandal, face to face, sole to sole . . . and of course, soul to soul.

We say on Easter, rightly so, Happy Easter! However, on this wondrous day, on this life and death and life again celebration, I pray to honor the three things Jesus asked us—me—to go forth and do. Yes, those Biblical requests have become formal, fancy liturgies. But all of us will break bread with another who hopes to be welcomed; all of us, wet or dry, seek community; and all of us are weary from the journey and need rest and care.

On one day, let us joyfully shout, Happy Easter! In every day, let us become a living response to Jesus’ simple, soulful requests . . .

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1 Comment

  1. You know, I have often had the very same thoughts. Why didn’t foot washing become a sacrament. It would have fit very nicely between the once in a lifetime baptism and the weekly Eucharist. (My mother could not understand weekly Eucharist. How much sinning can you really do in one week! After all my arguments that Martin Luther took communion every day, I had to concede that Martin Luther was compulsive obsessive, and that in fact once a week did take the edge off. But, I’m glad our Episcopal church does it weekly. It makes the service bi-modal, a high point at the homily (sic) and one at the communion, with all the “business matters” announcements and collection in between.) But getting back to foot washing. wouldn’t it be a nice counterpoint as the end of Lent, to Ash Wednesday. Dirty the head and wash the foot. (I think there’s an idea in there somewhere.) I always thought the pope’s performing that act went a long way to being able to see him as humble, especially when Paul VI did it with severe arthritis while walking with a cane. There are some things so sincere one cannot be glib about. …but that’s no concern for me, since I am consigned to the fiery regions twice over for my irreverence…. I wonder how the Pentecostals stand on foot washing? (By the way, I was positively delighted to discover the Pentecostals, my latest good guys, have cat fights over Biblical interpretation with the Fundamentalists. More anon.)

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