Focus 40 Day 7: Extreme Living – Loving and dishes and feet
Prayer Focus: Pray to love your enemies – Matthew 5:44
Extreme Living—Loving and Dishes and Feet
“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
—John 13:14 (NRSV)
IT WAS MY FIRST YEAR as an undergraduate at Anderson University. I was culture-shocked and socially awkward—great life-skills for trying to get my first student job. By the time I worked up the courage to arrange for interviews, there were no jobs left. Toward the end of my first semester, I was so desperate that when two of my male friends told me about a job in the dish-room, I applied right away. The lady that took my application looked me up and down and said, “Honey, dish-room jobs are more suitable for men. Are you sure?” I was desperate, so I put on my most determined voice and said yes.
Those evenings in the dish-room turned out to be much harder than I thought. I would leave work in the sweltering hot dish-room to walk back to my dorm in the freezing winter that I was still getting used to. Growing up on the equator, I never learned my body needed time to adjust between the extreme hot and cold until I almost passed out at work one evening. That night as I stood under the hot shower, I cried in anger, “You called me to ministry. How does washing dishes have anything to do with ministry?”
It was not till years later that I realized washing dishes has everything to do with ministry. Whether in the missionary apartments, or with friends at the seminary community room, or at Kelley and Rhonda Philips’ home in Berlin, or with a family in Auckland, wherever people gathered for “church,” there would always be food—and of course, dishes to be washed.
I came to understand that even the most culture-shocked and socially awkward person could communicate, “Love your neighbor,” by simply being present for the everyday mundane, such as doing the dishes. For it is also in the everyday mundane that we begin to share stories and simply be present for each other.
In John 13, we find Jesus’ final teachings to his disciples about living life together after he is no longer with them. He begins by washing his disciples’ feet—an act that we have now come to hold as an ordinance in our Church of God tradition. Footwashing was one of the everyday mundane acts of their time, an act to demonstrate hospitality to guests.
As we approach Maundy Thursday and remember the sacrament of footwashing, may we remember that love was demonstrated to us through that simple act. Because of that, we have the responsibility of loving our neighbors today in a manner that goes beyond simply upholding the sacraments to the simple, everyday mundane.
Jesus, we have the capacity to love only because you first demonstrated that love to us. Remind us today to live as people so loved by you. May our words and deeds reflect your love in us. Amen.
Jael Tang, Church of God Missionary to