I wandered into Chapel today.
In case you’re curious, that’s not entirely an easy thing to do on the campus of a Lutheran seminary. We have chapel services every day at 11:55am. Either you go, or you don’t. Rarely if ever is there a whimsical decision along the lines of “I think I’ll go to chapel today.”
Honestly, I hadn’t intended to go to the midday Maundy Thursday service at the seminary’s chapel. Today is the first day of our Spring “break” and I had started it off by going to a funeral for a member of the fire department this morning. I didn’t think I’d be back in time for the chapel service, and knew I’d be going to services at my teaching parish this evening anyway.
But, when I was driving past the chapel on my way home from the funeral service, I saw people walking up, and realized I had time to quickly park and go to the service. Imagine my confusion (and terror) when I walked into the chapel, still in suit and tie from earlier, only to see that part of the service included foot washing.
I’m not a big fan of feet. Chances are, I never would have gone to the service if I had known foot washing was involved. But I was “trapped.”
And then, Julie, our Associate Director of Admissions preached the sermon. She talked about how she too hated feet. More importantly though, was the message of how she got over that to eventually feel comfortable participating in ritual foot washing as part of worship services.
I won’t try to rehash Julie’s sermon, because I’m terrible at trying to summarize someone else’s sermon after the fact. But what struck me is how foot washing truly is an act of humility. You become vulnerable by allowing someone else to touch and wash your feet, but, you are also humbled by washing someone else’s. It drives home the idea of servant leadership, one cannot truly be a leader if you’re not first willing to serve. Sometimes we need to roll up our sleeves and stoop down low to love our neighbors the way that Christ taught us to love.
I probably would not have participated in the foot washing part of the service (it was, after all, optional) if it weren’t for hearing Julie preach beforehand. But, I took off my suit coat and dress shoes, rolled up my sleeves and did it. And I’m grateful I did. It put a whole different perspective on today. One that I will carry with me tonight to my teaching parish, and will remember throughout the rest of Holy Week, and for many years to come.