Gospel Service Foot-washing ceremony
Sgt. Ida Irby,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
The altar of the 1st Armored Division Chapel at East Fort Bliss was arranged in the full décor of a day spa with water, towels and foot basins. Except it was not for relaxation and serenity, but for a centuries-old traditional foot-washing service on Holy Thursday, in remembrance of the act of humility performed by Christ when he washed the feet of his disciples.
More than 30 church members attended a foot-washing ceremony April 5 preceding Easter worship services April 8. Chaplain (Maj.) Artie Maxwell, 1st AD, opened the service in song, singing, “Forget about yourself, concentrate on Him.”
Chaplain (Capt.) Carla A. Gunning, 4th Brigade Combat Team, reminded the congregation that Easter was not only about the death of Christ, but also his service to people. The Bible tells the story of Christ washing the feet of his disciples: He poured water in a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with a towel. After washing their feet, Christ said they should wash one another’s feet as he had done.
The ritual at 1AD Chapel was a symbolic re-enactment of Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet as a gesture of humility. Maxwell and Gunning joined in to wash the feet of multiple members of the congregation during the service Thursday evening. Everyone in attendance had their feet washed, even though the membership varied by age and gender.
Attendees learned that by following the biblical study of Christ’s guidelines, concerning the ritual act of foot washing, the deed should be completed with a humble mindset as an act of love, explained Gunning.
Generally, foot washing was left to a servant or, in modern day culture, done as a paid service. By washing one another’s feet, members took upon themselves the humblest of duties.
“The foot-washing ceremony is significant in Christianity, because it symbolizes living Christ’s way of life, a life of service to others,” said Maxwell.
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