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“You Also Should Wash One Another’s Feet…”

Today is Maundy Thursday, a day traditionally set aside by the Christian Church to commemorate the Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion.

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”). This statement, which appears in the Gospel of John (13:34), is spoken by Jesus to explain to the Apostles the significance of his action in washing their feet.

Today, in North America and around the world, many Brethren in Christ congregations will hold a special service and set aside some time to practice the ritual of foot washing.

From the genesis of their community in the late 18th century, members of the Brethren in Christ Church considered foot-washing a sacred ordinance. As the denomination publicly declared in 1881:

Feet-washing . . . is a lesson of love of the purest type. It also teaches humility, and that we should esteem others better than ourselves. It also fosters a spirit of equality and of oneness among the children of God. It upsets and dethrones all selfish and domineering tendencies. It embraces and binds together in the inseparable bonds of love and true fellowship all the children of God.

A more contemporary expression regards feet-washing “as modeled and taught by Jesus” to be

a demonstration of love, humility, and service to one another, pointing beyond itself to a way of life. In the life of the church, the feet washing service is an occasion for reconciliation, affirmation of one another, and testimony of God’s grace.

May these words inform the acts of service committed by Brethren in Christ across North America tonight.