Today’s story is about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. You can read it here.
This lesson will start with us telling the kiddos that this story took place while Jesus was having a meal with his disciples, so we’re going to give them some food, too. At the time I’m writing this we haven’t determined if that’ll be chapati bread from the local village, or if I’ll be packing a few boxes of Saltines. (The bread would be ideal, but it does mean we’d need enough bread for 500 people – and I don’t know if the local cafe can do such a large order…)
After passing the snack around to the kids, while they are eating their crew leaders are going to grab some buckets and sponges and start washing the feet of the kids. No explanation, just doing it. I imagine some of the kids will be confused. Maybe embarrassed. Maybe curious. I think all of them will have some pretty gross feet. 🙂
After all the feet are washed, we’ll tell the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet – and how the disciples didn’t understand either. It’s not a very long story, but washing 100 pairs of feet will probably take up a decent amount of time. (Oh, by the way, if I didn’t say before, there are five groups of about 80-100 kids rotating through each of these activity stations, so they’ll get twenty minutes at each before they move along to the next.)
There are two key takeaways from today’s story. The first is that regardless of what’s going on in our lives, something that we can always be sure of is God’s love. No matter what we are going through, Jesus loves us. Even though we don’t understand why something is happening or how any good could possibly come of it, God always always always loves us.
The second takeaway is that we should serve others the way that Jesus served, never thinking of ourselves as higher than someone else. Jesus did the work of the lowest person in the household, and he did it because he loved his disciples. Not sure how much I’ll focus on this takeaway – not because it’s not good, but because maybe I’ll want to drill into that first point more. Is twenty-minutes-minus-feet-washing-time enough for two points? To be determined.
“Even when you don’t understand, Jesus loves you.” Whew. There’s so much truth behind that statement I don’t even know where to start. Because who hasn’t gone through a hard time and yelled at God, “Why is this happening? What are you doing? How can you possibly be a loving God if this is happening?”
It’s really hard to take a step back a think, “God is bigger than this situation. God is bigger than I am. God is God and knows what he’s doing.” And it’s even harder to step further back and say, “And in it all, he is a loving God. Even though I can’t fathom it.”
I actually feel like this is something where I have a leg up. It’s taken me years but I feel like I have finally learned to take those steps back and trust that God has a plan. A plan that I may never understand, but he has a plan through it all. I wish that could tell you how I arrived at this deep knowledge that I feel at my very core when I go through challenges (and believe me, I have gone through some doozies), but I can’t.
There are so many great analogies I’ve heard that have helped me learn this on my journey. The mother reassuring her child as the doctor gives a shot or does a procedure – something that’s necessary but painful but will bring good results. The father holding his son close as they run through a rainstorm – the child screaming in fear, and the parent whispering, “It’s okay. I’m right here. I’ve got you.”
It’s hard to learn to trust in God taking care of things we don’t understand. I had to keep stubbornly clinging to God when my unbelief threatened to sweep me away like a pounding storm, praying, “Help me overcome my unbelief.”
I hope in some small way reassure that God does love you. Even through that illness, God loves you. Even through that loss, God loves you. Even through that unfulfilled dream, God loves you. Even when it seems like no one else cares, God loves you.
Even when you don’t understand, Jesus loves you!