Foot washing on Maundy Thursday follows Christ’s example

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The Rev. Jeff Baker, right, rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Warren, demonstrates the foot-washing ritual that will be carried out today, Maundy Thursday, at a service at 7 p.m. Joan Seaver, chalice bearer, assists with the ritual as Melanie Garman, church secretary, has her feet washed.

Washing of Feet follows example set by Christ



The Rev. Jeff Baker will follow in Jesus’ footsteps at the Last Supper as he washes feet during the Maundy Thursday service at Christ Episcopal Church.

Foot-washing will be carried out at many churches around the globe as Christians mark the day known as both Holy Thursday and Maundy Thursday. When Pope Francis washes feet today, the act will garner media attention.

Father Baker said the practice of foot-washing in the Bible is found in John, Chapter 13. Verses 4 and 5 read “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”

On the practical side, Father Baker said, “Jerusalem was a dirty, dusty place. People would have a place to clean feet. Maybe a servant would wash people’s feet.”

But, Father Baker said, the foot-washing was rich in symbolism when Jesus performed it. “This is a tangible way to show serving through leadership.”

The passage from John 13:15 spells it out — “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

Father Baker said he takes the message seriously. “In my priesthood, I lead by example.” He said that is done by “serving the community and offering a place for people to find God.”

In the Scripture, Simon Peter resists the washing but finally is persuaded by Jesus, who also tells his disciples that they should wash one another’s feet. By that, Jesus is conveying the idea of serving one another. “Through serving people, we show God’s love at its fullest,” Father Baker said. “It should make us aware that we have gifts to share.”

The Maundy Thursday service at 7 p.m. at Christ Episcopal, 2627 Atlantic St. NE, will have both hand- and foot-washing.

“Allowing someone else to wash your feet is an intimate act,” Father Baker said. “For some, it’s uncomfortable.” So, some people participate by having their hands washed. “Allowing the foot-washing signifies our letting go,” Father Baker said.

Father Baker said the act of being washed is “giving ourselves over to Christ.” And, in a way, symbolizes the washing away of our sinfulness.

Father Baker said between 30 and 40 members usually volunteer for the hand- and foot-washing.

The altar also is stripped during the Maundy Thursday service. “It reminds us of Christ being stripped of his clothes,” Father Baker said.

Good Friday services are at noon and 7 p.m. with guest preacher the Rev. Walter Carvin. “It’s solemn,” Father Baker said of the services. “Jesus’ final act on earth is taking away our sins and fear of death.”

Holy Saturday service will be at 7 p.m. with baptism. Easter Sunday services are at 8 and 10 a.m. with an egg hunt after the second service.

Father Baker said he hoped those attending the services would “more fully understand their relationship with God and their lives as Christians.”

The Holy Week services highlight the magnitude of what Christ did for us, Father Baker said. “We have to be little Christians and try to imitate him.”

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