How do we remember?
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 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. (John 13:1-14)
This story of the last supper in the Gospel of John is portrayed so differently than in the rest of the Gospels. In the other accounts of this event, Jesus asks his disciples to gather by breaking bread and partaking of the cup in his remembrance. We still practice this ritual very frequently as a faith community. Every single month, and for many more often than that, we partake of the body and blood of Christ as a means of remembering the significance of his life, death, and resurrection and also as a means of Grace for our hearts and souls. I think fondly of the times that I have taken communion to homebound individuals or even met folks at a restaurant or a park to serve them communion when they did not feel comfortable partaking of Grace in a traditional house of worship. This simple ritual has taken upon such a profound meaning over the centuries and will continue to provide us with a tangible practice that connects us with God's Grace.
Yet while accounts of the last supper in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke center around the importance of remembering Christ through this practice and in our hearts and minds, this event in the Gospel of John takes on a profoundly more interpersonal and social significance. Rather than merely telling the disciples to remember him, Jesus gets down on his hands and feet to exemplify one of the most important ways that we are to honor his life and sacrifice. Jesus becomes a humble servant to his friends. Here in this intimate dwelling space, the Prince of Peace and ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven performs the humble task of washing his guest's feet. It is a stark reminder that no matter what status we possess and regardless of how great we think ourselves to be, we become most Christ-like when we are willing to serve others humbly. Jesus says to his disciples, "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."
What has Jesus, our Lord and Savior, done for you in your life? Has He brought you peace, understanding, comfort, and joy? Has a relationship with Jesus been transformative in your life so that you will never be the same? And if so, what does that gift require of us other than to share that same Grace with others? I am so proud to be part of a spiritual community here at Long's Chapel that actively engages with the world and works to be the Body of Christ to a community that desperately needs it. Of course, none of this would be possible without you who are reading this now. I want to ask you, sisters and brothers in Christ, to search for ways that the Spirit is inviting you to serve others in our community. Currently, our Open Door ministry needs disciples who feel a call to serve others just as Jesus served those around him. All volunteer positions operate within safe social distancing guidelines and provide a safe and meaningful way to be more like Christ. For information on how to serve, please contact Bill Guy at Bill.Guy@LongsChapel.com. Whether you wish to sort clothes independently for the Second Blessing thrift shop, help prepare or serve food to our hungry neighbors, or simply offer a smile as a greeter, there is a way for you to serve and remember Christ the way that he asks us to.
May your day be blessed, and may we all grow closer to Christ as we serve our community and one another.
Tom Henderson Owens
Executive Pastor of Ministries