March 30 is Maundy Thursday, the night in which Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper at his final Passover meal with his followers.
He also calls upon them to love one another as he washes their feet.
Here is tonight's message for that event and Gospel reading from John.
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Every year, on this night, we hear the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet.
It is his final lesson to them but it also seems to be the most important one he wants them to learn.
Of all the things that Jesus taught and did, this act maybe best summarizes the kind of love his teaching was about.
This thing that he did not only typifies what it means to be Christ-like, but it also helps to learn what God is like.

But I think we all understand what Jesus did and what this meant.
So I thought that,…. instead of just talking about what Jesus meant by this call for us to ‘love one another’,….
that we should consider what a real life example of this ‘Jesus’ kind of love that he advocates looks like.

So I have an example of someone you don’t even know.
Recently, I met a woman who happened to be an African-American or, black.
This woman works as a Home Health Care Giver.
She is very friendly and is also involved in her church where she lives.
But those points are irrelevant for the purpose of this message because I want to talk about the work she does.

You all probably know what Home Health Aids do in their work.
They serve people who are limited or disabled or too elderly to generally take care of themselves.
Some of the more pedestrian or simple chores they do are cleaning the house or going shopping for groceries.
But almost any person or even some college student intern could do that kind of work.

The more difficult work that they do involves more ‘personal’ stuff.
‘Personal’ both to the one being helped as well as the Home Health Care worker who is doing the helping.
It’s personal to the client because what the workers do entails private things that we customarily reserve for doing ourselves.
And it’s personal for the Care worker because what they do requires them to engage with another person in ways not normally done.
The kind of work they do involve things that most of us would shy away from or even shun if asked to do them.

That is, they have to get personally involved with the physical (and sometimes emotional) needs of the person they are serving.
Things like helping to dress them,….. to bath them,…. to clean them if they’ve messed themselves,….. or change diapers in some cases.

They may have to prepare food in special ways so it can be eaten or even feed a person, like we once did with our children.
And they have to comfort and reassure them when they falter or fail to  do things that most of us do everyday without trouble.

Only thing is,….. Home Health Care workers do things that we do out of love for our own babies or children,…… for complete strangers.
Yes, they get paid to do what they do, but my experience and contact with such people tell me that there is more going on than that.
Most that I have known or seen do this kind of work also as an act of love similar to the kind of love that Jesus showed that night.
Their work is comparable to Jesus’ washing his disciple’s feet.
Comparable in that it’s a love that puts the other person’s wants and their needs above our own wants and needs.

Its not a warm and fuzzy kind of love that we  easily rush into when its a child, or loved one, or friend of ours.
But rather one that requires effort and the notion that we have to roll up our selves and get our hands dirty to do this kind of love.
Effort to do loving acts that might require subsuming our pride or being offended at things that bother us.
Effort to force ourselves to be a little humble and to go deeper into what it means to be truly human and give of ourselves.
Effort to sacrifice what people might think of us, with more concern for what the other person (and God) thinks.

If we want to really relate to (and not just try to understand) the love that Jesus is talking about and doing when he washes their feet,….
then we ought to go work as a Home Health Care worker for a bit.
That would help us better connect with Jesus….like a railroad car connects with the engine that pulls the train.
It would move us to do the kind of love that drives us not solely by the engine of who we like or what feels good,….but on the simple idea of who needs help from us.

Jesus told his followers to love in this way because this is how he loved them,….. regardless of their flaws and needs and dirtiness.
And so, this too is how God loves us,… especially when we’re tough to love.

What’s this love of God that Jesus showed us look like in the world?
I see it less that God sheds his grace upon America with our freedoms and amber waves of grain,…
and more when America helps those who are denied freedom, and shares its amber waves of grain with those who are starving.
I don’t see the love of God so much in the birth of a beautiful healthy baby,…..
as much as in the workers at places like St. Jude’s Hospital, where babies born with deformities or cancer are cared for.
I don’t see God’s blessing so much in the beautiful and gifted people showered with adoration from a society who adores them,…..
but in a Home Health Aid who helps to shower a physically or mental disabled or elderly person.

I think things like that are how we do this love of God in Jesus Christ.
And we  don’t have to get jobs doing such things.
We can do what Jesus asks of us in everyday life in our jobs and in our retirement,…..in the world and in our homes.
Its just a matter of diminishing our pride and self focus and resistance to what might make us feel uncomfortable.
Getting rid of things we do to elevate ourselves and, in a sense, lower ourselves to where we can lend a hand to someone.
Put humble humility in place of trying to impress others and give to someone who has had to stop worrying about  pride and impressions.
We can do it anywhere and anytime.
To and for anyone we meet.

Amen.