When I knelt to wash the feet of an African-American woman who is an elder of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I knew the moral universe of my youth had vanished. A cynic viewing the action only moments before when she knelt to wash my feet could argue that nothing had changed. But when the roles changed, even a cynic could acknowledge that deep change has occurred.
It certainly did to me in last Maundy Thursday, when a small group of Christians gathered to remember the gospel story of the night Jesus washed his disciples' feet. We listened to the story and I said a few words about servant leadership. Then we came forward, two by two, to wash one another's feet, reenacting Jesus' humble example of love.