Friday, April 01, 2011

March 24 Sermon: Beautiful Feet

Sermon Texts:
Isaiah 52: 7-9
John 13: 1-15, 34-35

Call to Worship
A new commandment we were given:
Love one another, as I have loved you.
In simple acts of service and kindness,
Love one another, as I have loved you.
In repairing the wounds of conflict
Love one another, as I have loved you.
In listening to each others' stories and memories
Love one another, as I have loved you.
In forgiving someone when they have wronged us
Love one another, as I have loved you.
Lord, soften our hard hearts, give us the clean spirits
To Love one another, as You have loved us.

Sermon Notes:
Blessed is this gift of a new floor. What comes into contact with a floor? Our feet. Imagine all the places your feet have taken you. Dr. Seuss Book—Oh the places you’ll go.

Jesus’ feet. I came into the sanctuary this week to ask for a sermon. That’s not that uncommon a thing for me. But, what happened in return was uncommon for me. I went down here to the chancel and I knelt in front of the altar, and the stained glass was glowing, and I just became solely focused on Jesus’ feet there in the window. I knelt there and stared at those feet and I heard this door open and close in the draft that comes through the church. I heard the wind blowing through the shingles, I heard the birds singing and chirping and competing with one another. I heard the wind blowing through the newly budding branches of those sweetgums. I heard. The door thing kinda freaked me out. I kept wondering if someone had crept in the door and then was sitting on the back row of the church or something. But my focus wasn’t broken. I knelt here and my back was straight like I had a string pulling me up from the top of my spine.

Feet, they are taboo aren’t they? This account of Jesus washing his disciples feet is uncomfortable to us, as it was to the disciples, but for different reasons. We are probably just grossed out by the idea of someone touching our feet. The disciples are used to that. This is a common act of hospitality, usually performed by a slave. The disciples are appalled that their teacher and master is the one on his knees with a towel tied around his waist, washing their feet.

But Christ was foreshadowing here, wasn’t he. It was these lowly feet –these fishermen’s embarrassingly hardened and calloused feet and these tax collector’s embarrassingly soft and pampered feet, that had been following the footsteps of Jesus around Judea and Samaria and Galilee. It was these feet that would bear the message of Jesus’ redemptive power from Spain to India and from the Caspian sea to Britain to Ethiopia.

Jesus is giving life to Isaiah’s song of praise, “How Blessed are the feet on the mountains of those who bring good news.” Can you imagine how hard and calloused and grungy these disciples feet must’ve been when they spent their lives walking around on them everywhere they went? How did they cut their toenails? I remember this one guy in college didn’t wear shoes. The bottom of his feet were black. He didn’t just not wear shoes around the brick sidewalks of my college, he didn’t wear shoes at the gas station or wal-mart or anywhere. He challenged those “no shirt, no shoes, no service signs.” Wait a minute-I haven’t seen those signs around here—do we just have those in Arkansas? Heyyyyyy…..

Took a shower the other day after I had mowed the lawn and raked up all the sweetgum balls. Boy, my feet were dirty. Can you imagine Jesus bent down washing between your toes after a hard day’s work like this?

Jesus washes our feet. Jesus is our Mighty God in the flesh. And what does he do? He shows us how to love and how to serve. “Love one another as I have loved you,” he says. We think this sounds like an easy task, and yet it is sometimes so hard. He doesn’t say “Love one another as you have been doing.” He says, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Not everything has to be a fund raiser. Sometimes something can be a gift of devotion and glorification. (((((((((Floor?)))))))))) How we treat the poor is part of our judgment day. But sometimes one must just stop and fall on her knees and pour her heart out to Jesus, as Mary does in the chapter preceding. You see, Mary is a prophet. She sees with prophetic eyes that what Jesus just did: step into her brother Lazareth’s tomb and call him out was a sign of things to come. When Judas and the others, with unseeing eyes, castigate her for her action, Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, gives them the word of his impending death.

So, may we be creative in our devotion to our master’s feet.

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