Jesus knew that this evening, this meal, was the last time he and his twelve disciples would gather as a group. He wanted his followers to remember, in the difficult days ahead, why he had come and what he had taught them. When the disciples began to argue about which of them was more important, Jesus decided to make his lesson plain: Taking a towel and a basin of water, this great teacher knelt beside the first disciple – and did not stop until, like a lowly servant, he had washed the feet of each one there.
By including the service of feetwashing in our love feast, Brethren imitate Jesus’ actions and honor his lesson. No person is greater than another, Jesus taught. Love has no need to prove status or position; love simply gives — and keeps on giving.
A symbolic, cleansing act, feetwashing prepares us for the meal and communion that follow. It reminds us that in God’s sight, everyone needs loving attention, and everyone can offer that service to others. First we humbly accept attention and care from the one who washes our feet. Then we in turn wash someone else’s feet. After each act of feetwashing, the two people embrace and share a simple phrase of blessing.
In receiving this emblem of God’s cleansing grace, we remember that as followers of Jesus, we can help distribute God’s blessings to others – through steady, loving service, symbolically washing the feet of the world.
From “There Am I in the Midst of Them: Ordinances of the Church of the Brethren“