Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Modern Day Footwashing

John 13:1-17 is one of my favorite stories in scripture. The imagery of Jesus washing His disciples feet is almost unbelievable. When you picture this man who spoke the wold into existence, called a dead man back to life, walked on water, and gave sight to the blind on his hands and knees washing dirt from between the toes of some twenty-somethings it is always a startling picture. And Jesus meant for it to be startling. Because this is not how the world, in it's fallen nature, works. The president does not take the job of opening the door for the White House janitor staff. The chairman of the UN does not expend effort to collect everyone's' jackets and hang them up at the UN meeting. The CEO of the Fortune 500 does not help the unpaid intern file last years expense receipts. And the King of the Universe certainly does not pick toe cheese from disciples toes. But he did. 24 dirty, smelly feet. And then he asked them a question: "Do you know what I have done for you?"

Do you know what I have done for you?

Foot washing was the lowest common courtesy that was extended to anyone that came into a home in the culture of Jesus' day. Like asking someone if they would like something to drink when they come into your home, it was just common courtesy to wash your guests feet. And it was the job for the "lowest" ranked person in the house to do. Since Jesus and his disciples were borrowing the space to prepare to celebrate the passover there was no one there to perform this task. And none of the disciples were anxious to volunteer for the task. So Jesus set an example for them that they should follow in it. He did this for us too. It wasn't that he just washed their feet. He washed them with his life. Giving it up for them and us that we should be washed by his blood for our guilt. Then he said to them: "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." What does that mean for us today. It means taking the tasks that others need but are "beneath" you. It means asking "How can I serve you?" to your coworkers, family members, and your congregation. It means looking for those people who are in need or have needs that are not being met by their current circumstances and saying "What can I do to help?" Jesus said that if we did these things that those around us would "know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another." Does the world know that we are disciples of Jesus because we wear tshirts that say so, or because we listen to music that says so, or because we have shown them by our love for one another.

As the Galena Bible Church has been trying to respond to the flood disaster that has devastated Galena we have been asking the question "How can we wash their feet?" So far by God's grace and the generosity of our sister churches we have cycled through close to 160 volunteers over the past 5 weeks.  Working in nearly 40 homes we've been involved in everything from building material lists, fixing unstable foundations, insulating, sheet rocking, rewiring, plumbing, heating, cabinetry, flooring, painting, framing, finish carpentry, automotive/small engine repair, baby sitting, meal preparation, firewood cutting/splitting, demolition, house moving, berry picking, and winter meat preparations (jarring). All jobs that desperately needed to be done, but no one else was able to step up to and accomplish. I've watched as members of the church laboriously served each other and their neighbor sludge through wet insulation, and painstakingly sort through damaged possessions to see what could be salvaged.

We're exhausted. The Bible Church team that has been coordinating volunteers, providing transportation, cooking, prioritizing work, evaluating work, documenting jobs on facebook, recruiting additional volunteers, and shuttling tools and materials has done a fantastic job. Every entity from the federal, state, and local level has over and again acknowledged that without the volunteer efforts of the Bible Church most of the domestic work that has been accomplished would not have been. The hard (rather impossible) work that the entities were powerless to do has been done by the body of Christ. Why? Because we remember our Lord's question: Do you know what I have done for you? What we were powerless to do, Christ did on the cross on our behalf. Our greatest prayer is that Galena would know that about Jesus as they see what we are doing for them.

Things you can be praying for:
- Safety for the volunteers as they travel and work in Galena. Last week one volunteer fractured her hip when she fell off a dozer while trying to get away from a bear. (Can't make this stuff up.)
- Safety and success as men from the church venture out for moose.
- Rest for the GBC members who are tirelessly serving Galena.

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