Beautiful Are the Feet

I am not a big fan of feet…in fact, I really have never liked feet. There is a family portrait my dad took of my family’s feet when I was just 3 or 4 and my brother was a baby…I ‘ve never even really liked that picture.
It’s hard for me to picture “beautiful feet.” There is one story about feet that I liked as a child. I liked it so much that it was one of the first books that I bought for Nicholas when he was born. It’s in Arnold Lobel’s Mouse Tales. The story is about a mouse who wants to visit his mother. He buys a car and starts driving, but the car falls apart. There, by the side of the road is someone selling roller skates, so he buys them and skates until the wheels fall off. There is someone selling boots, so he buys those and tramps until there are big holes in them. Someone is there to sell him sneakers, so he buys those and runs until they wear out. So he takes them off and starts walking, until his feet hurt so badly that he cannot go on. There, on the side of the road, someone is selling new feet, so he buys them and runs the rest of the way home.

Beautiful are the feet that long with such a depth of desire to be home.

When I was in Seminary, I was liturgist for Chapel one day when we had a guest preacher. She was relatively short and had on high heels. When she came to the pulpit to preach, she took off her shoes and explained that she preaches bare footed because God told Moses to remove his shoes when he approached the burning bush, and any time we approach God we are standing on holy ground.

Beautiful are the feet that seek to hear and receive and share God’s Word.

This sermon was going to be about evangelism and mission – about ways that the Farmington family is sharing God’s love with others through Room in the Inn and Rise Against Hunger, through the Day School and by sending kids to Pinecrest summer camp. I was going to encourage you to take your postcard with the Holy Week services on it to a friend and invite them with you to Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, to join you for the solemn service of stripping the church on Good Friday and then to return Easter Sunday morning with the joy of the resurrection. But, this year there won’t be Easter postcards, we had to decide this week whether or not to order Easter lilies, and the reality set in for me that we might not be together for worship on Easter Sunday.

And I turned to study Paul’s Word to the church at Rome again. He laments how litigious and rigid following the Law had become in the Jewish faith. As if by following closely enough a person could get themselves into heaven, or by ignoring it or violating it completely get themselves thrown into the abyss. And I was reminded that coming to the church building on Sunday is not required for us to worship God. Whether we gather or not, the good news of Easter rings not just in the walls of our Sanctuary, but throughout Creation. When the people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with Palm Branches and shouts of Hallelujah, some wanted them to be quiet, but he knew that if those were silent even the rocks would cry out. And as we face the possibility of Easter in a time of social distancing, if we are not together, even the earth is crying out – the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, and the earth is greening in resurrection glory.

It isn’t about us being together in our Sunday best. It is about the truth that God wants us to be home – so badly that God will wear out shoes running to us. He came to us with bare baby feet, he wore them out walking and teaching and healing and serving; he allowed them to be pierced as he was nailed to suffer and die for us. But those feet were new on the third day, ready to run the rest of the way to us. Beautiful feet.

And beautiful are the feet of those who share that incredible love with others, who speak God’s Word of hope and home, of compassion and peace.

Beautiful are the feet of your elders serving on Session who are calling members each week to check in during this time of physical separation. If you have not gotten a call, then please call the church office and leave a message with your correct contact information. The church number is 754-7216.

So, how can you have beautiful feet in this time? I started thinking about what is still working:

1. Our phones – Use your phone to reach out. Call someone who is home alone and talk to them. Use the “add call” feature on your phone to get your friends together for tea or coffee. For conversation starters, if you aren’t already, purchase the Lenten study book on Amazon and begin reading Week 5 of Lent, “Shoes.” If you email me and let me know you are meeting, I’ll send you the small group conversation guides I’m preparing each week.

2. For now, our Postal Service is still working – Wash your hands and write a note to someone just to say you are thinking about them.

3. If you are on social media, it is still working. Use it to be your beautiful feet. Share the links to our services. Post Scripture verses that strengthen and encourage others as this journey gets difficult. Our cars may break down, our wheels may fall off, but God is right there at the side of the road with what we need for the next portion of our journey.

4. God is still working. God is not absent in this time. God is present with those in quarantine and those who feel isolated. God is working through scientists, doctors, nurses, and medical professionals to bring healing to those effected. And God is opening our eyes and rousing our hearts to realize the interconnectedness of our world – how will you be beautiful feet bearing the good news of God’s love to your connections? To realize the number of people in our midst who live on the edge – how will you be beautiful feet bearing the good news of God’s care to those on the precipice? And to realize the hurriedness with which we live our lives, spending much more time with the people we work with than the people we live with, filling our days with activities and tasks at the expense of relationships with one another and God.

May we realize that the car is worn out, the wheels have come off, the boots have holes in them, the shoes are worn out, and your feet are tired and take our shoes off and approach God who makes all things new, for God calls us – you and me – to be his beautiful feet in the world, and the ground where we are standing is Holy Ground.