Lessons in foot-washing: An outward-looking community

The church is not a self-preservation society

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 23 September 2018

How a cowbell and a spider can enhance Christian worship.

Something distracted me during the sermon yesterday. Other than Curate Steve’s pink clerical shirt, something else visible stood out during the sermon. From here I was sitting, the light from the southern windows illuminated a single thread of spider silk running from the brass of the eagle-shaped lectern to the nearby stone pillar. When you have autism, little things like this are significant, I cannot choose what I take notice of. The spider had not spin that thread when I was last there on Friday. Somehow the effect of the sun on silk enhanced rather than distracted from worship.

That a gossamer thread should be visible at the distance across a church building was down to the angle of the sun. This being the later contemporary service the sun was close to perpendicular to the windows. I was in the worship band playing percussion. My job yesterday was hitting things for Jesus. In one song, my lighthouse, I kept a steady rhythm on the cowbell. There is not enough cowbell used in Christian worship in my opinion.

The service was about God’s love. That tells nothing, all Christian worship services are about God’s love, but this was specific, the reading coming from John’s Gospel, chapter 13 where Jesus shows love and humility by washing his disciple’s feet, ten following that demonstration of love by telling them that they should love one another as he has loved them. Footwashing was a part of everyday life. Showing love as Christians should be an everyday part of our lives.

The mark of the Christian is love, costly life-giving love. Jesus’ people are to be a people of love. The early church did this, loving people back into life: They took in outcasts who were abandoned by the pagans. Similarly during the black death, when the pagan temples turned infected people away the churches took them in. It wasn’t as if they had some immunity from the disease, they didn’t. Many in the churches became infected and died. Showing God’s love for others can be costly.

The church is not a self-preservation society, it is a giving society.

Love is the mark of the Christian. Loving each other is putting faith into practice. Real love: Self-giving unremarkable love costs. Can people looking at us see the love of Christ in our actions? Can they see that we are Christians by our love?

We declare that we, the church, shall be the means by which Christ’s love will be shown to others. If we give away love we end up getting more love.

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