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Keywords: Foot Washing Footwashing Christian Ceremony Service

A Ceremony For Footwashing (Foot Washing) ,
As Commanded By The Lord

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - Internet Church Of Christ -
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Okay, Christians: It's time to deal directly with an issue that most of us prefer to avoid: footwashing.

The pure fact is that the Lord commands us to wash each other's feet. This is not some figure of speech, or some optional formality that we can safely ignore. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. And He commands us to do the same to each other. Period.

     "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If
      I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also 
      ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an
      example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
      (John 13:13-15 KJV)
It's true that the broader meaning of this command is that we should take care of each other's physical needs as if they were our own. But this truth does not eliminate the requirement that we actually wash each other's feet.

So here is one good way we can do it and satisfy the commandment:

1. Under the leadership of your Pastor or group leader, each participating person writes his own name on a piece of paper which is then put into a box, to be drawn. Participation should be voluntary, but all Christians should be encouraged to participate.

2. Then, each participant draws one name randomly from the box. This is the name of his "footwash partner" for this ceremony. As each person draws a name, he reads the name out loud and pairs off with his footwash partner. People whose names have already been drawn will already have a footwash partner, the person who drew their name, so they will not draw a name from the box. If you draw your own name or the name of someone who has already been paired off, discard that name and draw another. Thus, all participants will be grouped into pairs. Try to get an even number of participants in each ceremony, so no one is left without a partner.

Make no distinction by age, sex, or marital status. It should be a pure random drawing, which represents the fact that all Christians are entitled to give and receive foot washing to and from all other Christians.

3. Each participant should provide his own water, basin, and towel to wash the feet of his footwash partner. (Optionally, the church or worship group can provide these supplies.) Jesus makes no mention of using soap or oil, so soap or oil are not needed.

4. All the footwashing should be done at the same time, with the person who did the drawing washing his partner's feet first, then getting his own feet washed afterwards, by his partner. Once the pairing-up is accomplished, the procedure should only take a few minutes to do.

5. A new drawing should be conducted for each footwashing ceremony, so that the footwash partners are constantly being changed. It is understood that this level of physical intimacy, conducted randomly with fellow Christians, is not usual in modern life. Too bad. It should be. It was clearly the Lord's intention that we should care directly for each other's physical needs, as if they were our own.

6. Before the footwashing begins, the Leader of the ceremony should read the authorizing Scriptures, John 13:13-15, shown above. Then he should pray a prayer similar to the following:

     O Lord, we try to follow your commands, including Your command for
     us to wash each other's feet. Please be with now as we demonstrate
     our love for one another, as You have loved us. In Jesus' holy name
     we pray, Amen.
6. The footwashing ceremony should be conducted with the same frequency as Holy Communion, recommended at least once a month, preferably each week or more frequently.

May the Lord richly bless you as you try each day to live by His commands.

    Yours in Christ,
     Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director<><


From Thu Nov  1 07:16:42 2001
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 01:17:05 -0500
From: Christian J Hedemark 
Subject: Re: [ULCCF] Ceremony For Footwashing
Thank you for sharing this.  On the ULC Online forums I brought this up in
my pulpit to a somewhat unenthusiastic response.  I was until recently
unaware of people actually fulfilling this commandment from our Lord but
upon reflecting on this verse independently I came to the same conclusion
that we were to do this.  My thoughts on why may be a little different, and
could perhaps add to your service.
One of the major things that God accomplished by sending Jesus to walk among
us was that He humbled Himself in an unimaginable way.  Here He was, GOD,
the great Jehovah, who was now walking among us as a (likely) average
looking Greek & Arameic speaking Jew within the Roman empire.  Even other
Jews looked down on Him as the people He grew up with could not properly
pronounce Hebrew at the temple.  He joined us as one of the lowest of the
By the time of the last supper, He was recognized by many of His disciples
for who He truly was (others still weren't there 100% until the
resurrection).  He was treated as a King.  And yet, He performed this very
humble act.  Remember, in this time period, even a Jewish slave would
probably be above this chore.  But here was the King of Kings, on His hands
and knees, washing the dirty feet of 12 men who walked in His shadow across
the sands and dirt roads of the region.  The footwear back then was pretty
primitive, and the feet got pretty nasty.  I mean, on the scale of desirable
jobs, this was right down there with the modern chore of cleaning a public
Now think about this.  If you were to go to someone who is at the dregs of
society, the lowest of the low, and you washed their feet, how could you
then look down your nose upon them after doing such a chore for them?  You
have humbled yourself before them.  "Blessed are the meek".  Could it be
that you could be blessed by humbling yourself in the presence of the meek?
This is the basis for a publicly held service I hope to hold in a national
forest next year, that is frequented by the ATV and 4x4 crowds.  I think
there is a lot of power in this message, if presented properly in a sermon.
Try to paint the conditions surrounding this act as Jesus did it, and put it
into context with the contemporary views and customs of His time.  There is
a lot more power here beyond fulfilling a commandment just because Jesus
told us to.
Beyond doing this for fellow Christians, whom I respectfull do *not* agree
are "entitled" to this, would you consider doing this for a homeless man on
the street?  For a police officer?  For that dirty old man on the park bench
watching the young girls go by?  In my personal opinion, this is one area
where it is important to avoid the mechanical drudgery of ritual and seek to
replicate the spirit of the act itself.  I would be interested in carrying
on further discussion on this as I think it is something that many of us in
our pride have quietly dropped from our doctrine.
Reverend Christian J Hedemark II
Hillsborough, NC
"Those who are willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little order,
will lose both and deserve neither." - Benjamin Franklin

# # #

May the Lord bless this presentation of His holy Word.

     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><

See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of Biblical truths.

Please also see our related pages . . .



May the Lord bless this presentation of His holy Word.

     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><

See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of Biblical truths.

Please also see our related pages . . .



Blessings to you. May God help us all.

       Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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