A friend of mine posted a photo on facebook a few weeks ago that both tickled me and made me think. It said, “Normalize telling your friends you love them. Tell them a lot. Make it weird.” I think this is a great definition of what tonight’s gospel must sound like and look like to all of us no matter how many times we hear it.
Before Jesus is taken away and tried by Pilate, Jesus does two incredible things: first he washes his disciples feet to teach them a lesson on servanthood, then at supper, he teaches them about what we call The Holy Eucharist. And even though what we do with the bread and wine might look a little different, we use the same words that Jesus used… this is my body, this is my blood… and we do this time after time after time to remember his greatest commandment given to his disciples: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Yep, Jesus made it weird.
It sounds so simple… Love one another. Love them as I have loved you. I think this means that Love is our guiding principle in all that we do; and we have to normalize it. Everything in our culture, on our televisions, buzzing in our ears… it all tries to keep us from loving each other and loving our neighbors as Jesus loves them. Society operates from the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” which can be helpful advice sometimes, but there are so many people who cannot do that, people whose lives depend on the resources and kindness of others. How did Jesus love? Well, we know that in the gospels we see him heal the sick, give sight to the blind, feed the hungry, raise the dead… and tonight, well, after telling and showing his disciples so many ways to love others, tonight he makes it weird. He takes on the role of a servant and he washes their feet. I think it’s important to note that he even washes the feet of Judas, his betrayer. How’s THAT for making it weird? How’s that for servanthood?
Tonight those who wish will participate in the washing of each other’s feet. Whether we participate physically or in our hearts, I wonder how receiving and showing that kind of love will feel? What I truly hope is that each one of us will figure out new ways to love one another both in this community and in the community beyond our walls. Being a servant in a society that doesn’t really value that kind of giving up of oneself is not an easy thing. Even Jesus met with opposition from his most trusted friends, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus asks the all important question, “Do you know what I have done for you?” “For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.” For the disciples, it was truly a night that started out uncomfortable and weird. Washing feet, talking about eating his body and blood… heads must have been spinning; and it was only the beginning. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” He loved all of us at a table for the breaking of bread and drinking of wine. He loved all of us to the cross and all the way to death. He loves us still, in oh so many ways. Let us Love and be loved, my friends. Even though it isn’t normal in society, let’s make it our normal. And yes… make it weird.