Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that He came from God and was on His way back to God.
So, He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When He got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After He had finished washing their feet, He took his robe, put it back on, and went back to His place at the table.
John 13: 3-12 The Message
Today, I am sad. I am saddened by the events on the news. Protests and riots in many of our nation’s cities, including Seattle and Bellevue. Certainly, the event which sparked the riots, the death of George Floyd, has been condemned by all. Beyond that, I don’t want to comment extensively on what’s going on. Others who are experts on policing, protest dynamics, and racial relations will have more to say that I do. Except I do want to say again that I am very sad, and my heart is heavy. Part of it seems absolutely unreal to me. As one of our church members shared, “What is happening to our country?” Good question…
Yet I do not want to leave you only with a sense of sadness. I also feel called to share with you hope. Therefore, I am sharing with you a story of one of my heroes, Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He offered hope to our country during another time when our country struggled mightily over racial issues.
Again, this is not original to me. But it is worth sharing…
“In August, 1968, the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. four months earlier, and the race riots that followed on its heels. Nightly news showed burning cities, radicals and reactionaries snarling at each other across the cultural divide.
A brand new children’s show out of Pittsburgh, which had gone national the previous year, took a different approach. Fred Rogers had met François Clemmons at a church service after hearing him sing, and asked him to join the show. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood introduced Officer Clemmons, a black police officer who was a kindly, responsible authority figure, kept his neighborhood safe, and was Mr. Rogers equal, colleague and neighbor.
A year later in 1969 when black Americans were still prevented from swimming alongside whites, Mr. Rogers invited Officer Clemmons to join him and cool his feet in a plastic wading pool, breaking a well-known color barrier. And there they were, brown feet and white feet, side by side in the water, silently, contemplatively, without comment.
The episode culminated with Rogers drying off Clemmons’ feet. Most young kids were probably unaware of the real weight the episode carried, its scriptural overtones, but the image of a white man tending to the needs of a black man was seared in their minds nonetheless.
25 years later, when François Clemmons retired, his last scene on the show revisited that same wading pool, this time reminiscing. Officer Clemmons asked Mr. Rogers what he’d been thinking during their silent interlude a quarter century before. Fred Rogers’ answer was that he’d been thinking of the many ways people say “I love you.”
In a world screaming out for tolerance, acceptance, kindness, and love - choose to be a Fred Rogers - because if more people could find a way to love others the way he did, without barriers, this world would be a much better place...”
God of love,
Even when your son was about to be betrayed, He reached out to demonstrate love. In our conflicted world and riot-torn nation, help us to sow seeds of hope and love. Guide us to serve others, so that we all will be transformed. May we realize anew that all of us are Your children, no matter the color of our skin. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name.