Cold Hands, Warm Heart, Dirty Feet (Water):
It was a nursing home like most nursing homes. People had gathered in the recreation room as someone special was coming to entertain them. Wheel chairs, walkers, beds on wheels and even some in ordinary chairs! Everybody was excited waiting for the special guest.
Suddenly, he was there. A clown dressed in funny clothes, a red rubber ball on his nose and big floppy shoes! After a jittery start, dropping the juggle balls, losing one of the balloon animals shot off across the room landing on the face of a sleeping lady, he began to meet and greet.
He shook hands with the lady in the front row. She looked at him and said, “Oooh, you have cold hands”. He replied, “Cold hands, warm heart” with all the appropriate gestures. She smiled and said, “And dirty feet.” She went on to say it is what her mother said when she and siblings rushed through the gauze door after a day exploring the bush around their farm house.
Cold hands, warm heart, dirty feet. Dirty feet. The product of active feet, or as in the penguin movie, Happy Feet, feet that are out exploring the world, venturing to new places, engaging with life and different faces. Dirty feet are the result of being fully engaged in life.
Kids get dirty feet playing in the mud, kicking up leaves or footballs, cooking up scams and crazy ideas with friends., and they bring them back into the house. Wipe your feet!, a common cry of Mums from days gone by. Shoes were a luxury. Bare feet the go.
Not only kids, Dad’s boots, garden shoes, garage boots all brought in mud, grease, oil and stuff. Wipe your feet! Or better still, leave those boots outside!
Jesus washes dirty feet. Feet that have been contaminated by the dust of everyday life, that have picked up additives and bits of stuff not normally there. Dirty feet could be a metaphor for the stuff we pick up in our lives, cultural ideas and practices, current fads and fetishes, little compromises and shortcuts diminishing our living as disciples of Christ.
The disciples aren’t dirty. Not really. They have bathed and follow the normal rules of ritual cleanliness. They don’t need as impetuous Peter asks to be washed all over.
8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.”
The idea of Peter allowing Jesus to wash him is a little further than most of us want to go! Jesus says no, this not about the ordinary acts of cleanliness. This is about the reminder that we if we engage fully with life in this world we will find ourselves picking up dust from the road. Take time to wipe the dust from your feet.
Jesus undertakes this task on behalf of the disciples as:
- A leader – sets the example
- A companion – cares for those whom he shares life with
- A servant – be prepared to do for others what they may not wish to do for themselves.
In doing so he calls them to be:
- Mindful of the dust they collect and to take the time to reflect and let go of those things that become attached to us.
- Mindful of the dust others collect and to take the time to reflect and help them let go of those things that become attached to them.
- And respond with compassion and humility to both their (our) need and the needs of others.
As we come to night to participate in this act together, let us remember it is a community act of compassion and humility we all need and may we be mindful of our responsibility to serve Christ by serving others without question. Whose feet do we wash? Christ’s ! Amen