Tuesday, 15 October 2013

AIM Pt 3: in memory of summers past

With summer just around the corner I was reminded of one of my favourite things in life; summer evening picnics.  To my mind there are few things more enjoyable at the end of a hot day than feeling a cool breeze on hot skin, tucking into some good food and gazing at the glories of long shadows stretching out from rustling trees.  Chillin’ in the park it’s easy to see why they call the 5-7pm stretch golden hour.  Last summer was the driest summer in 50 years and we tried to make the most of these long evenings.  After being cooped up inside doing baby naps all day I couldn’t take it anymore and took the family to the park for dinner.  For a bonus prize daughter number one had a friend over and they had a wonderful time enjoying the evening playing on the playground, adventuring in the “forest” and feeling the bark crunch under their bare toes.  
When we got back in the car I noticed that my daughter’s feet had turned a deep shade of brown, verging on black.  “That’s it!” I said “When we get back home you are going straight into the shower!”  Cue groans and moans from the back seat and a lengthy discussion ALL the way home on why you should clean your feet before you go to bed so your sheets don’t get covered in filth from the playground.  It does not make sense to a 6 year old that their mother would not relish the thought of washing their bedding everyday so they don’t have to shower.  To cut a long story short; shower done, feet clean, into bed, asleep.

It was ironic then that a day or two later I was reading the book of John and what do you know?  Jesus and the disciples are sitting down fordinner and Jesus announces he will wash their feet.  John starts the story by letting the reader know that the reason Jesus does this thing is because He knows his time to depart this world [die for it] is near and that loving his own [his disciples] he loved them till the end [all the way to death].  This little note tells us that Jesus is not showing his disciples a new ritual to perform for one another or to chastise them for being too proud to cleanse one another but that he is trying to teach them something much deeper.  And Peter sort of gets it, he recognizes Jesus as the most important man to ever live and is insulted when Jesus comes to wash him.  But Jesus tells him “if I do not wash you, you have no part in me”.  Bam!  It’s like Jesus is saying to Peter (and us) “Peter, the only thing that can cleanse you of your sin and wash away God’s judgment hanging over your head is my blood.  If you refuse my death for you then you will not be forgiven by God.  You will have no part in my kingdom.”  To which Peter replies “then wash all of me!!”  But Jesus refuses “if you have bathed [which you have Peter, by putting your faith in me], then you are completely clean, you only need your feet washed!”

These indeed are comforting words.  For whoever believes the Jesus is indeed God Himself who did that cleansing work on the cross has been made clean.  A high pressure spiritual shower has been applied to their souls and flushed away all sin and created something new, something fresh, something bleached whiter than freshly fallen snow.  Yet every day our feet get dirty; which is another way of saying that Christians still sin. 

In commanding his disciples to follow his example and wash one another’s feet it’s like Jesus is saying to his Church “children, you are the Church.  I have given you to each other.  I have forgiven you all your sins, you are as clean as the snow, you are the bride of Christ dressed in spotless garments.  But you will still roll around in the mud of sin.  The guilt caused by your foolishness will cause you to fear my anger and you could use a frequent reminder that you are loved by me so wash each other’s feet – meaning – preach to one another what I have done for you.  Confess your sins to one another and comfort one another with the gospel”. 

So next time you are hangin’ out at church get in there and clean up your fellow disciple’s nasty toe jams so to speak!  And encourage them to return the favour!  Then we can all lie down at night comforted that we are fully clothed in the brilliantly clean garments/bedclothes of Christ.  Sleep tight!

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