Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we will be baptizing Liam Paul O’Dwyer. We are so happy to see him and his family with us this morning. I believe today’s Gospel reading about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples gives us a chance to look at baptism, not just as a ceremony welcoming Liam to the body of Christ, but how much Jesus loves his disciples all the way through history to us.
Foot washing was pretty common in those days, especially when gathering for an important meal. As the guests entered the house, a servant or a slave would be waiting to wash their feet. It was a symbol of welcome, and an expression of the status of the host that they could provide this to their guests.
But in today’s Gospel, Jesus turns that practice upside down. Jesus was the teacher, rabbi, and leader. No one with such high status would have humbled themselves in this way. But Jesus did. Why would Jesus do this? Throughout the gospels, we hear Jesus calling his disciples to lives of service. We hear him say, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” and “The first will be last, and the last will be first.” Jesus washing the disciples’ feet is a demonstration of that humility as we hear in verse 14, “If I, your LORD and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
In his final hours with his disciples, Jesus is making plain that they, and we, are to serve and care for each other without exception. In John’s Gospel, we see that Jesus, even though he knew what Judas was about to do, not only shared supper with him. He also washed Judas’ feet.
So what does that have to do with Liam and his family? When we baptize or are baptized, we are reminded that God loves us no matter what. In fact, there is no way that God would ever stop loving us. But there is more to it than that. If we follow Jesus, we, too, are called to love unconditionally. And when we fail to love, we know that God still loves us and calls us to care for each other as Jesus cared for all of his disciples. As Liam grows up, he will learn that he is loved. His parents and family will teach him about kindness and caring for others. And we, as a congregation, promise to do the same. All of us here, and at home watching, will make promises as his parents and Godparents will, to raise Liam knowing the love of God, learning about Jesus, and learning to care for each other as God cares for us. Amen.