Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, October 30, 2009

Foot washing ritual; Why Really?

So the Adventist Review has a new editorial on the Foot Washing ritual that the Adventists continue as if it has some relevance. I covered this earlier when the Review covered the topic before. Click the following link to read the article from 2007 Foot Washing - Symbolism over Substance

This time Roy Adams begins his Review editorial by saying:
IN CONNECTION WITH THE LAST SUPPER, JESUS INSTITUTED THE FOOT-washing ceremony, a ritual that has experienced widespread neglect in Christendom. The Adventist Church stands among only a handful of denominations still observing the practice. But the reality on the ground is that a high percentage of its members find reasons to skirt attendance at their local churches when “Communion Sabbath” comes around. Why?
Actually Jesus did not institute a foot washing ceremony. He washed the feet of the disciples as a servant and as a lesson. To make this a ceremony or a ritual is to deny the lesson that Jesus taught.
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.
"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:12-16 NIV)

It should be of far greater concern greater concern that Christianity has forgotten the lesson the teacher taught here of real service to each other then some created idea of a ritual instituted here.

The article goes on about how uncomfortable this Adventist instituted ritual is for visitors and particularly single people. I would go much farther in that it is uncomfortable to any thinking American. Most of whom have washed their feet mere hours before the ritual and who wear shoes and often socks or stockings and who walk on paved paths for the actual limited distance they do walk. To clean actually dirty feet from the dust of the road before sitting down (very possibly on the floor) to eat is a real service. It had a purpose, today in America at least it has no purpose and it actually gets in the way of the real lesson that Christ taught.

Symbols work well when remembering the body and the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But do we really need symbols or rituals about being a servant to other people? Jesus' body is not here anymore, the symbols remember the incarnation. The other body of Christ is still here and it is all of us, you don't need a symbol to see it, it is on the street, on the pew and even looking back at you in the mirror.

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