My friend Joe got me thinking about footwashing today.  It is, after all, Maundy Thursday – the one day out of all the days in the liturgical calendar when churches of every kind take up this ritual.  It’s so important to Christians that even parachurch groups and faith-based community organizations have incorporated this practice into their annual calendars.  And this makes me wonder… How did we get here?

Like most churchy things, when I take time to stop to consider the implications, one question sparks another and another. So many questions…

  • Why do we do footwashing rituals?
  • Is this a symbolic ritual, pointing to some alternative reality?  If so, which reality?  Or better:  Whose reality?
  • Is this a practice which helps us draw closer to the life of Christ? If so, how?
  • Does it help us become more Christlike?
  • What value is there in reenacting this biblical moment once a year at an often poorly attended mid-week evening service?
  • Does the ritual have meaning in our 21st century context?  Should it?
  • What meaning do we want it to have? How do we create that meaning?
  • And if it doesn’t, what does that mean? Can churchly rites and rituals change?  Should they?
  • If this particular ritual needs to change, then what is the 21st century equivalent to footwashing?

Every one of these questions could be a blogpost (or book) unto itself.  And some small (or large) part of me wants to theologically dissect each one.  Actually, I want to wrestle each question to the ground until the RIGHT answers can be surrendered.  But it is Holy Week.  And we’re all busy.  So for now maybe the questions are enough to keep me focused on why I’m doing this work in the first place.


When I arrived at UNCO13-West I really had no idea what I might find there as a first time attendee and 60-something minister. As it turned out, I found quite a lot. Here’s the short list:  Conversations, presentations, worship, skilled and experienced leadership, the opportunity to share my own nascent dream of a new kind of spiritual community/church, good food, new friends and colleagues, and even assistance in setting up my own blog site, all in a beautiful setting. As others shared the challenges and rewards of church planting, I gained the courage to take the plunge into bringing my dream of 7 years into reality. Following UNCO, my initial email about my dream church, sent to about 20 people, elicited enthusiasm, support, and the unexpected excited response from Amy Shoemaker, who shared the same kind of dream. Now Amy and I are co-founders of Sanctuary for the Arts in Oakland, CA (, and we have received a seed grant from the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities program.

If you harbor dreams about what a ministry could be and is not yet, 

if you know that you are meant for something you may never have tried before, 

if you have the sense that God is nudging you out of your comfort zone – or into it! - 

then come to UNCO14. (Register here:

You will find a welcoming and resourceful community that is ready to listen, share, encourage, teach, guide, and befriend. And who knows what else you might find, for yourself and for others.

Debra Avery:

a great post by my friend, the very Reverend Shannon Meacham! She is awesome. You should be following her every move.

Originally posted on pulpitshenanigans:

That’s an excellent question and one worth exploring.

How am I going to do all this?

I will make lists and charts, and talk things over exhaustively.

I will make a plan and not stick to it in any way and procrastinate and change my mind 50 times and then wish I had stuck with my plan all along.

I will carefully and methodically lay out my paperwork and then promptly spill coffee all over it.

I will get food on my keyboard and complain and clean my desk to make room. I will lay in bed and wonder why I cannot be more focused or sit at my desk and wish I were in bed.

I will choose music with the precision of a madwoman and then get lost for hours in new artists.

I will laugh

I WILL cry

I will try to remember why I’m doing it…

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