By Pastor Marty
“Nothing less than life in the steps of Christ is adequate to the human soul or the needs of our world.” – Dallas Willard, The Great Omission.
Our call is clear: we are to follow Jesus to love and serve our world. On Sunday Doug led us in a stunningly rich dialogue on what it means for us to “seek the peace of our city,” which is a Biblical way of saying we love those around us through service and vocation. Jane shared about volunteering at Casa Juan Diego among refugees and immigrants, where she folds sheets and prays for each person who will use them. Felipe shared that in his vocation, making peace means truth-telling, and how hard this work is. As a professional historian, he’s following Jesus and seeking peace in his job.
While many Mennonites gravitate towards the helping professions, this is equally true of our business people: we are loving and serving our world through our vocations.
Service, whether through volunteering or vocation, is to take on the cruciform shape of the life of Christ. In a recent blog post on Jesus and his mission I said it this way, “We, as followers of Jesus, are called to become masters of shalom committed to the common good in the shadows of empire.”
And then I ask the million dollar question, “How in the world could we ever embrace a mission which makes us look so, well, odd?” How can we capture God’s vision for ourselves as servants, and begin to live into the cruciform life of Christ?
In the prayer journals that the church provided this spring (need another? Grab one when you do!) we see a glimpse of how we can increase living “life in the steps of Christ.” We do this through the Spiritual Disciplines, which is “doing what we can to receive from God the power to do what we cannot.” On our own we simply can’t live our core values during the week; but through spiritual disciplines and prayer we can orient ourselves over and again to God’s values and vision for self and world.
What about the worship ritual footwashing? What if on Sunday we performed a literal act of service for each other in the context of worship? In this context, washing someone else’s feet feels safe, inviting, holy and well, Biblical. It feels different to wash someone’s feet you’ve known for years and worshipped with 500 times than to serve a homeless person or unknown corporate executive in this same way. Jesus of course washed his feet and invited us to do the same. In doing so, he took the form of a servant, not a leader or ladder-climber. Footwashing in worship is, along with communion, quintessential examples of doing what we can, in an effort to gain greater capacity in doing what God is calling us to do.
This Sunday in worship we’re going to try it on. Mennonites have practiced footwashing to form our faith for centuries, though less so of late. But Sunday we invite you to do what you can to receive from God the power to do what we cannot.
Specifically, we’ll invite you to respond to Micah 6:8’s call to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” by partnering up and washing each other’s feet. Our worship planning team was very excited about doing this together to praise God and form our faith. But they were also aware that for many of us, this is something new, something we might be anxious about or not want to do for various good reasons. And that’s ok! That’s why we’re inviting you, an invitation you can say either yes or no to without pressure. If, when we invite folks to wash feet you would prefer not to, by all means, stay in your seat and listen or participate in our singing. Whether you choose to or not doesn’t reflect on your faith or commitment in any way! Only you can decide if washing feet or staying in your seat will connect you more closely with God and empower you for ministry.
But the invitation is there: Come! Come into God’s kingdom and find that you are infinitely loved and celebrated by our servant God. Come to the basin in prayer knowing that God is at work in you to help you love and serve our world. Come, and try on this new way of worshipping, doing what we can Sunday to receive from God power to do what we cannot.
So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. – Jesus (John 13:14-17)