In her long poem "Feet" Denise Levertov wrote:
"I watched a man whose feet were neatly wrapped in green plastic.
He entered a restaurant that advertised a $2.00 special — Sloppy Joes.
And I saw him come out immediately again.
"It was cold and wet,
and I was taking shelter under the awning,
waiting for a bus.
The man was angry.
He looked at me —
‘No shoes,’ he said.
We all know the rubric —
No shoes, no shirt, no service."
You can drag dirt into an eatery with shoes
but not with feet covered in plastic.
Tonight we celebrate the Holy Thursday – commemorating the Last Supper and the Foot Washing. Tonight we are given much to consider as we sort through the images of Bread and wine, of body and blood. We are given strong images of service and we reflect on how we can take service more seriously.
In Levertov’s poem we see the modern idea about feet and how they sometimes can be looked at as unclean. This of course in our ultraclean society and our well manicured realities. Image how different it must have been in Jesus’ day. The roads were dusty, even dirty. There would have been animal waste on the roads and sandals, if that, was the conventional footwear. Then Jesus, as host at the supper, takes the role of servant and slave. He takes on the task of washing all the grime and all of the mud away from Peter’s feet. He washes away all that defiles and all that darkens. In that moment he brings comfort to Peter. In this intimate act Jesus teaches us all to find service in our lives. In this one moment Jesus declares a new order – where the least are as great as the most powerful. Jesus teaches that in being humbled we become exalted. He teaches that living a life of faith is living a life of service, of rolling up sleeves and doing the dirty work .
Tonight we are given a vivid reminder of image of the Body of Christ. We enter now into a time and space of reflection as we darken the church for Good Friday. This is such a Holy time.