Holy Thursday

Feetwashing icon by the hand of Nick Papas
by the hand of Nick Papas

Last week was Holy Week. Normally, we do not serve on Holy Thursday or as we call it, Great Thursday, because we are all in church for the 12 Gospels Matins. Some years, we have managed to find non-Orthodox people to serve in our place, but not always. This year, with all the upheaval and tension due to Mayor Nutter’s decrees, I decided that it was important that we be consistent in our service and presence on the street. Kaminsky’s made sandwiches. Joanne Wizneski brought over goodies from Landis Supermarket’s bakery. John Haggerty and Ha Nguyen rode with me. John still had to complete the tomb for St. Philip’s, but was not going to let that stop him from helping me serve the poor.  While I was making soup, Ruth and John Arn stopped by and asked if I was going down to serve and could they join me, and what did I need. I told them they could make hard boiled eggs, which they were happy to do. We had three big foil pans of pasta, vegetable salad leftover from the week before. As we were setting up to serve, two young mothers and their little children came up and asked if they could help us. I said, “Sure!” These little girls were very aggressive with the sandwiches. Very cute! They are planning on coming back again. Maybe I will get a chance to learn their names.

The week before, when I had told John Haggerty that I was going to be going down to the city on our Holy Thursday and would miss our footwashing service; he said, “Why don’t we bring water and towels and wash feet there?” He planted that thought. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to.

We brought an extra insulated container of hot water, a dozen, new washcloths and a dozen, new, small, terrycloth towels. After we were done serving and giving out clothes. I read the Gospel passage. A couple of the guys sat along one of the low walls and I washed and dried their feet. One of them is a Georgian who says he is an Orthodox Christian, but was not aware that it was Great Week. I directed him to the Pascha service at St. John Chrysostom Church two blocks away from where we serve.

We were blessed. We had a full crew and a very happy crew! We had enough food for everyone. I know this, because we had some leftovers. We had several good conversations. There were a lot of thank you’s and three good hugs.

We got home a little after 10pm. I checked in with Bethann, then joined John at his shop and helped him do some final sanding on parts of the tomb and help with some assembly. Then I went home for a couple hours sleep, went back to the shop for final assembly and transport of the tomb over to church. It was a great night! (But I’m too old for that stuff.)

“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – Gospel of St. John 13:14