Last Sunday we gathered. (Well, y’all gathered — and praise God Gene & Gina were willing to facilitate & hold the space while I was away — and thank y’all for supporting me being away & for of course having a delightful time with God & scripture even if I missed it!) There was prayer.
And then the check in. Getting oriented, you went back to the text — to John 13:1-20 — where we see our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, naked and serving us by washing the very dirt off of us…the homework had been to consider what does it mean, foot washing, and are we called to literal foot washing today — or is it more symbolic, and if symbolic then what is our modern-day equivalent? There were questions posed and observations offered — famous foot washers like Mother Teresa and maybe even Pope Francis in a way — but if some do wash feet how can we individually/as a church? Locally? And does Christ still wash us? It seems that the engaging conversation might have left all thinking, it’s the heart (the humility) of the service, the washing of the feet, and the intimacy of such humility/serving that might unnerve us and be uncomfortable….who wants to be “naked” with their dirty feet (sins/past) in such close proximity…who wants to wash feet that have been places we don’t know of and we are more ready to judge rather than lovingly hold? This is not easy, and we find it in scripture for a reason, I’d offer perhaps our discomfort with foot washing — how odd & awkward it is — perhaps should be how we consider love, grace, life…think about what love (God) in action does — think about the cross — think about how we live as a forgiven & a resurrection people…ALL of this is odd & awkward, maybe the foot washing reminds us in a way that all the other words & stories have become (too) commonplace to allow for the mystery & the absurdity of this active love to be considered, maybe the humility of the foot washing puts us in a posture to understand who (& whose) we are — and that makes us a little uncomfortable…
In appropriate fashion though, y’all turned to scripture — this time to Psalm 133
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore. (New International Version)
And in the reading there was the translation of living in “unity” as well as living in “harmony.” And there was a helpful musical insight differentiating unity and harmony, think of having one part (a soprano, alto, tenor, or bass) or a type of instrument all singing/playing the same notes/music/rhythm — this can be unity. Compare that with singing in parts, or an full orchestra playing — the music and the notes and the rhythms dance around each other — they push against each other — sometimes it’s tense, sometimes it’s smooth, it changes, moves has dissonance (challenges) and resolutions (and sometimes it doesn’t resolve quite like you want or expect!) but it offers something bigger and vaster than arguably unity can, this is harmony. However I would like to note (haha — did you catch that?) one thing — the idea of unity and harmony seems/sounds/are different — however, the reality is even in “unity” if you take all the voices in a given choir and have all sing an “A” the voices do not all sound the very same, if you take an orchestra and have them play the same note — it does not all sound the same, if you have the voices and instruments sing and play the same “A” it is different, so even in unity — even in a commitment to a singular note the idea of unity is not really “sameness” in all facets, even in unity there is difference/diversity/differentiation…tone/voice/pitch/sound…..
So homework. With such a short Psalm and a vibrant conversation — the homework must be easy right? And it is! 🙂 How do we live together in unity (harmony)? And a follow-up question as important as the first — how do we grow into this unity (harmony)?
*It might be worth noting the obvious right, we are all different people. Even while we profess faith in the risen Christ, even while we trust that we are forgiven, that God is in control, that we are blessed who trust in the Lord, that our names are engraved on God’s palms, that the Creator of the world, the Triune God — loves us, sees us, cares for us — we have not gotten along well whether inside or outside the church…there is brokenness all around us. SO, the homework while direct & straightforward is challenging, “How to we live in unity/harmony? How do we grow into this unity/harmony?”
Excited to see y’all Sunday in the AM!
~ Rev. Sabrina Slater