Maundy Thursday is the traditional day for foot washing during Holy Week in our congregation and many others, as it is the night of what we call "the Last Supper". For the children... we have chosen Palm Sunday.
More years ago than I can count, my Julie and I decided to introduce it to the children during New Generation Worship (our Children's worship service). Julie and I dress and Mary and Martha and invite them into to our staged Bethany home.
We have a great deal of fun with the idea of being whisked back in time to a different place. Lazarus is alive... again... and Jesus has not yet been crucified in our storyline snapshot. It is the perfect place to pause and talk about foot washing.
The first year... some just thought it too weird.... but some participated. The next year... previous "watchers" could not wait to be included.
Today, one kind mother shared that her Son says it is his favorite Sunday of the year. How amazing is that? The best part is... that same child grasps why it is special. He understands what it means to humble ourselves in love. It is a big concept for grown ups. It is a stretch for kids... but a good stretch. I wish I could remember his exact words, but we felt joy in the true recognition of the purpose of this ancient ritual... love through humble service.
"Mary and Martha" always model foot washing first, adding in many pieces of culture and some anecdotes from Jesus life. We cover a variety of material. The script is not exact and the children always help guide the learning with their questions.
We washed their feet... but then they turned the it around. Today, they wanted to wash feet, too.
Not just to receive - but to give. They partnered up and we washed some more. My soul is still singing. This next generation of believers is learning about humble service. Some of the littlest guys and gals washed the feet of another. The smiles were huge!
Honestly... I don't know how long we have been doing this. I am guessing, more than 10 years. Today, was the first time they asked to do the washing when we finished up the teaching. "Martha" and I looked at each other and said, "Why not?" Such sincere little souls and honest hearts.
Jesus challenged everyone to upside down thinking. Especially his disciples. Their rabbi...the master...the Son of God had no place kneeling before them and washing their feet. Ah...but there is the catch. He chose that roll. Humble servant...and mighty king. Jesus came as a servant leader and a servant Savior.
Jesus came to fulfill a mission from heaven...to pay a sin debt he did not owe, so that we can live freely and eternally. He came in love, lived in peace and was filled with power. He terrified the church leaders and officials because he would reach out to the lowest on the social ladder and the most hated., and they changed. Jesus was rocking their world, so they put into motion the plan for his death.
Jewish leaders had know idea they were changing Passover forever. The one they hated would hang on a cross...the Lamb of God...with the power to set them free. But most denied and refused the possibility, despite the prophecies fulfilled.
Footwashing takes just a little time... but it requires us to pause, ponder and proceed with love. It requires a heart to serve.
You know... it just might be my favorite Sunday of the year, too.
Today, I am grateful for a Palm Sunday tradition... footwashing.