By Mama Bear

This lady wants to remain anonymous, and we honor that. She loves the Lord and has great zeal.

FOOTWASHING: A reader speaks out. I've never cared much for empty gestures and meaningless rituals. I want to know why I'm doing a thing. I need a reason.

Certain churches have a regular footwashing ceremony. Many say footwashing makes them "feel so humble." But if you don't scrub the toenails and dry between the toes you're not really washing feet, you're only pretending. Pretending to wash feet, and pretending to be humble.

To make the ritual easier in some churches women leave pantyhose on. A lot of good that does! A splash and a dab with a towel don't do a thing. It's more pretense. The Bible tells us we are to act on what we know, not what we feel. Humble people don't feel humble. They don't think about feelings. Those who try to "feel humble" are hovering on the edge of pride.

I've been accused of pride because I don't do footwashings. Yet I've washed someone's feet when it was necessary. And I didn't feel humble, I felt useful. I've cleaned, cooked, tended kids, done laundry, stripped paint and wax, hung wallpaper, sewed, even removed floor tile with a sledgehammer. It didn't make me feel humble. I felt hot, tired, and dirty. But I was helping someone in need, not looking for good feelings. When I washed the feet of a black woman in the hospital after her surgery it wasn't to feel humble but to be helpful. She couldn't do it herself. After my surgery she covered my phone while I slept. Fair trade.

It's true Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and told them to wash one another's feet. But every word Jesus spoke to His disciples wasn't meant for all people of all time. We must consider the cultural context. In His day people walked miles on hot, dusty roads in sandals, and they were not Birkenstocks. A foot bath was an act of hospitality, much like our custom of serving a guest coffee or tea or a cold drink. Besides, footwashing was commonly done in the home not the temple.

Today we have Subarus and shoes and showers and soap. It makes no sense to remove shoes from already clean feet and let someone wash them with the stockings still on and call it spiritual. Instead of trying to work up a feeling of humility why not do something useful? Visit the sick and lonely. Take someone a casserole, homemade bread or cookies for the children. Entertain the kids for an hour and give a busy mother a welcome break. Wash a friend's car or mow the grass. These simple deeds mean much more than a ritual foot bath and are not half as messy. And the good feelings come afterpiano coversd.