Coptic Icon: Jesus washing the feet of disciples.

‘Loving as friends love’

Andrew Collis
Holy Thursday, Year C
John 13:1-17,31b-35

Our friend Allison Forrest was ordained a Deacon last week, and the preacher for the service at Pitt Street Uniting Church was the Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman.

Margaret’s homily reflected on John 13 – on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and giving the commandment that is always new: “Love one another.”

Indeed, those who live in accordance with love, Jesus says, are his disciples. Those who live in accordance with love express friendship, extend friendship to others, with others …

Foot or hand washing, like breaking bread, means loving as friends love.

“In the culture of the church, a great deal is made of the nuclear family and yet Jesus’ radical vision for humanity living in right relation with self, with others, with creation and with the Sacred, is grounded in neither biology nor marriage but in friendship … the only human relationship that is based on equality and mutuality,” Margaret said.

“[Friendship] calls us beyond love for one another into the world, to making friends with those whom society deems to be outside our realm of care” (Margaret Mayman, after Sandra Schneiders).

Foot or hand washing, like breaking bread, is a practice or training that builds capacity for friendship – giving and receiving love, support, encouragement, wisdom.

It is a practice by which we may come to understand – see, hear, smell, taste, touch – the story of Jesus as a sacred story.

“In the theology of the hour that Jesus realised had come, the cross is not a symbol of sacrifice to satisfy an angry God, but a symbol of the gift of Jesus’ life for those he knew and loved as friends” (Margaret Mayman).

Let us give thanks (eucharist) – with Jesus – for our friends, including parents and children, siblings and cousins with capacity for friendship, neighbours and lovers, all creatures and strangers bearing the promise of friendship …

Let us give thanks (eucharist) for the gifts (charis/grace/chara/joy) of God that free us to be faithful hosts and guests, to translate back and forth without collapsing the distinction between host and guest languages, to promote nonviolence and prevent war.

God is love. There is love to share and there is more to love. Amen.