For the past four years we have been “Living Our Faith” together as a church. This year we are in the year of love.
I was at the Maundy Thursday worship service this year and was reminded that this worship service more than any other is all about love. On Maundy Thursday we hear the text of Jesus, washing his disciples’ feet, commanding the disciples first to wash one another’s feet, and then giving them a new commandment to love one another as he has loved them.
That command to love one another comes down to us, as does the command to love one another through humble service like washing feet. Foot washing is not necessary except at this once-a-year ritual action. But there are many modern ways we can follow Jesus’ command to love.
Masking and giving social distance during the pandemic was a way to love one another. Greeting homeless people or better yet working for just housing for those in need is a way to love one another. Working at a food bank or working for a living wage for everyone is a way to love one another.
Visiting people in prison or helping re-integrate parolees into society is a way to love one another. Generously supporting your church and agencies like Canadian Lutheran World Relief is a way to love oneanother. Bringing food to those who are sick or grieving is a way to love one another.
Saying that you are holding people in prayer is a way to love one another. Taking reusable shopping bags to stores and recycling at home and work is a way to love one another as is advocating for governments to do more to respond to climate change. The list goes on and on.
Where I worshipped this Maundy Thursday, we sang a hymn called An Upper Room written by Fred Pratt Green. The third verse reads:
And after supper he washed their feet,
for service, too, is sacrament.
In him our joy is made complete:
sent out to serve as he was sent.
This understanding of our calling as all the baptized to be disciples of Christ, called to service, is laid out clearly in the ELCIC document Reimagining Our Church. As it says, “The vision for the church that emerges from reflection on these questions is one in which every Christian and every community of Christians participates in God’s mission in the world. Each Christian recognizes their baptismal call to serve the world by speaking and living the gospel promise. Every baptized person and every community of baptized persons is called into a life of diakonia, or delegated service, which is rooted in the gospel promise and not in duty to the Law.”
We recognize that we have different gifts and the way that we will live out our diakonia, our foot washing, will be different for each person.
But there are people around us to help us recognize our gifts and encourage us to use them. Friends, family, other church members, pastors can all help.
The deacons in our church can help us to participate in God’s mission, helping us discern our gifts for ministry, and supporting and encouraging us in our serving.
No matter how we serve, or how much we serve, let us do it joyfully, imitating the love that Christ has for us.
Maybe if we think there is a sacramental aspect to our serving, it will encourage to pick up our towels and follow the servant way of Jesus.
This is what the year of love is all about. How are you doing in your loving others? How are you doing at foot washing?
Rev. Susan Johnson
ELCIC National Bishop