The night where Christ stood up from dinner, removed His outer garments, and wrapped Himself in a towel. He poured water in a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel. He was fully aware of how dirty their feet were and how messy their stories were. He knew each one of them would betray Him in just a matter of hours, and yet He knelt them down and washed them clean. He met them in an act of love, showing that He saw the good and bad in them, and He still wanted to use them.
Last night, as the post-winter thundersnow storm raged, some students gathered in 55th for a semi-spontaneous slam poetry event hosted by the group Mad Skillz. Earlier in the day they taught us Dutch, Reformed kids a thing or two about worship . . . that it’s okay to talk in chapel. It’s not bad to say “Amen!” even if it’s not the end of the prayer, and if something is hitting you, it’s okay to snap your fingers to let them know that what they’re saying is resonating deep in your bones.
At the evening event, the host said “If a poem really hits you in a way that snaps and ‘amens’ don’t cover, take off your shoes and throw them on stage. Throw your water bottles. Throw your sweatshirts . . . whatever you’ve got, throw it up here.”
Poet after poet stepped up on stage and shared their stories through well-crafted words. 55th was quieter than I’ve ever heard it because people were listening. Snaps, amens, moans and groans, laughs and tears rumbled throughout the building and why? Because these stories sunk deep. The poets were vulnerable, and as a community we were able to see them for who they were. Good, bad, ugly, and redeemed, we listened and shared different parts of our stories.
Jesus was there.
He saw the dirt, the grime, the hurt, and the pain that poets and audience carried to the room that day. But in vulnerability, He met us as we took off our shoes and encountered each other in love.
When Jesus sees disease, He sees the opportunity to heal. When He sees sin, He sees a chance to forgive and redeem. When He sees dirty feet, He sees a chance to wash them.
At the end of that Thursday night, He gave His disciples a new command to love each other deeply and fully. “Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” Here we are, thousands of years later, and I saw the Lord use a pile of shoes and bare feet to demonstrate His love once again.
Take off your shoes. Let Him wash you. Love each other deeply and fully.