by Darren Pope
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Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him (John 13:5).
One summer I used a blend of speckled paint and chemical sealer to refresh my large-sealed driveway, patios and paths. It was a huge job and took me days with a wide roller and lots of perseverance. As for PPE, I wore a fancy respirator, long, thick rubber gloves and old sandshoes. When it was done, I stood back and admired my work. I was stoked with the result and really proud of how new and fresh it made the areas look. The hard work seemed to be worthwhile.
Two days later, something weird started to happen. I noticed that both my big toenails and four other smaller toenails had turned red. I didn’t think much of it, but over the coming days, they all turned a deep dark purple, got wobbly and dropped off! What was going on? I have no idea why this happened or what caused me to lose my toenails. I was so embarrassed! I wanted to hide my feet from view, but it was a summer of stinking hot days, so I kept wearing my Birkenstock shoes to the local swimming pool and shopping centre. I felt completely self-conscious and that everyone was looking at my ugly toes. It took a whole year for the nails to grow back.
Our feet are not a particularly glorious part of our body. When Jesus demonstrated love in action by washing feet, we often focus on this as our role model for Christian service. Appropriately, this helps us understand the values of love, humility and servant leadership; however, the unsung hero at this moment is grace. Jesus knew each of the disciples very well. He knew their backstories, their strengths, their failings as sinful human beings and that one would betray him, condemning him to death. Jesus knew they had ugly toes and that it felt like everyone was looking at their sins. Jesus washed their feet individually and completely. Jesus washed them clean.
I can try to clean off my sins, but only through Christ and his grace are my sins actually and truly dissolved and resolved. It is God’s work through Christ. God serves the world as he comes to me and works through me. Yep, even with my ugly toes.
God of the new day, in you, I’m washed clean. In you, I’m refreshed. I’m yours; I’m ready! Amen.