Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dirty Feet

Today I taught the children at our church about Jesus washing the disciple's feet. In America today the need for foot washing is not as obvious as it was in Jesus' time. Many children's Bible storybooks feel the need to explain the need for foot washing. Here in rural Uganda, the need is obvious. The combination of dirt roads and foot paths, along with most people wearing sandals and some not having shoes at all, makes for some very dirty feet! Sometimes when I help Ezra really scrub and soak one of his feet after a day of play, it appears as if his two feet are from two different people.

As I was thinking about the lesson, I decided that the best way to teach this lesson is to do just what Jesus says in John 13:14 and 15, "If I then, your Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." So I decided that we would wash one another's feet in Children's Church today. 

Sometimes the logistics of making an idea like this happen are a bit complicated. First of all, we don't have water at the church. We needed to bring several containers filled with water in addition to washing basins, soap, scrub brushes, soap and towels. We also needed to plan activities for the rest of the kids to do while we were washing the feet of the others. Since repeating and memorizing is a common activity in schools I decided I would have the helpers work with the children on memorizing a verse about Jesus. They practiced reciting Matthew 20:28 in English and in Luganda. The verse is when Jesus says, "even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." I also wanted the children to be able to trace their feet on a piece of paper to help remember the lesson, so we needed to bring paper and make sure we had crayons at the church.

As I was setting up the children's church classroom, some children were walking by to fetch water for their families. I invited them to come back after taking the water home and told them that I would wash their feet. I am pretty sure I used the right words in Luganda, but the girl replied saying that she would go home, wash her feet and then come to church. I explained that I did not want her to go home and clean herself first. I just wanted her to come and I would wash her feet. She said that she would come after fetching some more water. When she came back, I saw that she had washed her feet and legs. I realize that there are language and cultural barriers that would prevent this girl from understanding what I was saying. Being clean is very highly valued here. Also in a hierarchical culture like this one, it is unlikely that an adult, particularly one in clean clothes, would want to wash your dirty feet. In Uganda, schools actually send kids home if they are not "smartly dressed" and having good hygiene. We have some kids who live here at GSF who were sent home from secondary schools because their nails were not clipped and another time because their heads were not shaved. 

As I was washing the little girl's feet after she had already washed them at home, I thought about how we all want to clean ourselves up before coming to the church or even to God. We feel like we need to get our act together, then we can come to Jesus. But Jesus never said anything like that. Instead he took off his outer garment, wrapped himself in a towel, and knelt down and washed the disciples dirty, stinky feet. I'm sure that a lot of that mud ended up on him. (I definitely went home and quickly took a shower afterward today!) Then the next day Jesus went and was crucified for all of the dirty, sinful, broken people like me. Jesus doesn't want me to try to atone for my own sin. He has done that for me. He just wants me to let Him wash me. I also don't need to come to God's people pretending that I have it all together, pretending my feet are clean. I don't need to make sure I am looking just so. Instead I need to just be willing to come with my dirty feet, trusting that only He makes me clean. 

No comments:

Post a Comment