Serving in the Time of Anguish!
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:3-5 (NIV)
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17 (NIV)
This has been a difficult Lenten season for many, for me! The world is experiencing a global pandemic and as I write from New York City, a clear “epicenter” of the ongoing crisis in the United States. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are all around! As I reflect on what my normal activities would have been as a pastor during these last days of Lent and leading into Palm Sunday and Holy Week, I have been reflecting on the Gospel of John, chapter 13. Jesus’ final gathering with his disciples was a powerful lesson in love, humility, and service.
As Jesus met with the disciples for the Passover meal, he did the unexpected. In an act of humility, he knelt and washed his disciple’s feet. The Lord of Glory, The Messiah, The Great I AM, taking on the posture of lowly position, he knelt to the ground with towel and basin in hand and washed the feet of his disciples. Those were days of anguish. Jesus’ death was before him and his disciples’.
These too are days of anguish and Jesus’s great example to us in times of anguish is humility, service and love. Jesus did not consider himself for who he was, The Messiah, but he humbled himself and served his disciples by washing their feet.
When his disciple Peter protested, he simply told him, if I don’t do this you will have no part of me! Jesus was doing more than physically washing feet, he was offering a spiritual cleansing. The Master humbled himself to serve his disciples, and by extension, all of humanity.
What motivated Jesus’ actions? I believe it was love. This same love should motivate us also. Love that is grounded in the love of the Savior. A love that causes us to take a posture of humility in this world, especially in times of anguish, and serve others just as Jesus’ example of service was demonstrated.
The world is hurting. Our communities are hurting. The poor and forgotten amongst us are hurting. Can we, will we, humble ourselves in days of anguish with towel and basin in hand, take a posture of humility and serve those in our midst who need to and want to know the love of the Savior! I pray we will!
Rev. Althea C. Taylor, an ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene, serves as the Executive Pastor for Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene and former Interim Co-lead pastor 2018-2019. Rev. Taylor also serves with several national Christian organizations that seek to enhance the welfare of others and advocate for just practices. A former board member of Christian Community Development Association, CCDA, and a founding member of The Immigration Alliance, she works with others to equip community organizations in building capacity for transforming their communities and serving churches to equip them with providing trusted and affordable legal services for immigrants seeking to assimilate into the United States.