Thursday, March 20, 2008
In Christian churches that use a liturgical calendar, today is Holy Thursday, the annual commemoration of Jesus' "Last Supper" (perhaps a Seder meal) with his followers.
The ritual meal aspect of this event is repeated in the Eucharist, the sharing of the blessed bread and wine. But the particular feature of the Holy (or Maundy) Thursday liturgy is the washing of each other's feet in reenactment of Jesus' washing the feet of the people coming along with him on his way. Think hardened, dusty, tired feet on people who knew no transportation but walking. There was nothing pretty about those followers' feet -- the ritual reminds us that it is the human condition to work and trudge on, sometimes painfully. And we are assured that apparently God cares for our walking along the path.
Last spring I had the privilege of attending a community forum at a church in San Mateo County at which religious leaders performed the foot washing ritual for low-wage, mostly immigrant, cafeteria workers. This seemed about right. It's the labor of people like these that keep our society going. How often do those of us who live more easily serve them?