Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hood of Service

“Why are we doing this?” Sometimes there are questions that we respond to almost instinctually. Someone says, “How are you doing?” you respond with “I’m good,” even if you are sick and just got fired from a dream job after you girlfriend broke up with you and took the dog. But every once in a while we are presented with a question that knocks us on our heals, with the weight of it importance.
When Anthony asked me, “Why are we doing this?” it was one of those questions. We stood there in the quite sanctuary, waiting our turn to wash each others feet, and I struggled to answer. My answers didn’t seem to balance with the weight of those words.
Perhaps the question had added weight because of the way that Anthony asked it. His awkward bending teenage frame, trying to figure out how to hold itself to match the straight and formed d├ęcor of the stained glass sanctuary. His muscles pulling on each other trying to hide is sagging pants, oversized t-shirt, and general street thug appearance. Maybe it was because only a year ago Anthony prayed to have Jesus be the Master of his life and in the past 3 months had the Latin Kings, a local gang, try to recruit him. Perhaps the sincere and earnest way that he asked the question, truly not knowing and early wanting to, made me consider my answer more carefully.
The day, Maundy Thursday, could have added to the impact. We were participating in the evening service of prayer and remembrance of what Christ went through with his disciples the night before his crucifixion. We read the scriptures and sat in silence letting the memory of those events soak into us like drying laundry left out in the rain.
Maybe the question hit me hard because this was the second time in a week, I had knelt and washed some else’s feet. A week prior at the World Venture Short Term and Mid Term missionary training, I had the humbling experience of being taken out of the servant position and being served. At that same training, I heard this quote that as came crashing back to front of my mind with Anthony’s question.
“Servant-hood stems from a secure identity of who you are in Christ.”
“Why are we doing this?” It was almost as if Anthony had captured in his confusion the very heart of Peters protest. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Why are we doing this?
It is only now weeks later, as I try again to study the verses and understand Jesus’ answer to Peter that I know how to answer Anthony’s question.
Jesus washed his disciples feet because he “knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” (John 13:3) Christ was certain of His identity and out of that authority he knelt and served. When Peter protested that Jesus was too good to wash his feet, Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand… Unless I was you, you have no part with me… Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should was one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:7,8,14-15)
We serve one another because Christ has served us. If we are going to be part of the body of Christ we must follow his example and wear the hood of service.