Physical touch is not my love language – but Maundy Thursday is my favorite day of the liturgical calendar.
I grew up in a denomination that did not place much value in high liturgical experiences (or the value of women in ministry, but that’s a longer story for a different day). As I found my way to a United Methodist Church in college, I experienced worship that felt radically different to me, not only because of the different theology but because worship regularly asked me to experience God through my own body or the bodies of the church-gathered. Experiences like processionals and recessionals, corporate prayer, physically moving my body to kneel and receive Communion, and, you might have guessed it, foot washing were all new to me during the first liturgical year worshiping with that community.
I’ll never forget having my feet washed on a Maundy Thursday service for the first time. I had never been to a Maundy Thursday service before; I didn’t know that foot washing was even a part of the service. I was new enough to the community that I did not have time to ask questions or look to a knowing ally for what to do or how to opt-out. I found myself shuffling towards the foot washing station with the shortest line on a far side of the sanctuary, tucked away under the balcony, out of view.