Within the hour, sixty folks would be coming to our hilltop pasture for “campfire church” and a wiener roast. That was when I realized there were plenty of old horse manure piles still needing to be picked up from the very spots where families would be sitting on the ground, eating their hot dogs and singing their praise songs. I grabbed the wheelbarrow and pitchfork and trudged up the hill to try to purge the field of poop, at least superficially.
It was no use. Manure piles don’t pick up easily out of long grass, and the number of mole hills outnumbered poop hills 2 to 1 so there was plenty of dirty stuff to go around. This would not be a hygienic eating and worshipping experience, no matter what I did at the last minute to try to change things.
Sure enough, many of the kids and a few of the adults pulled their shoes off to walk barefoot in the pasture grass, and I’m sure a few walked in stuff I’d rather not think about. Only one got stung by a bee. The rest of us kept our shoes, sandals and flip flops on, which meant plenty of the farm went home on bare feet and soles of shoes after the service was over–people actually leaving dirtier than they arrived. It seemed a bit backwards from how it is supposed to work…
Muslim, Shinto, Hindu, or Buddhist worshippers ritually leave their shoes at the door of the temple or mosque. Christians wear shoes into church every Sunday, having walked in muck and mire of one sort or another all week. We might do our best to try and clean up for Sunday, but we track in the detritus of our lives when we come to sit in the pews. Rather than leave it at the door, it comes right in with us, not exactly hidden and sometimes downright stinky. That is when we are in obvious need for a good washing, shoes, feet, soul and all, and that is why we worship together as a church family. Jesus Himself demonstrated this on the last night of His life, washing the dusty feet of His disciples.
The Lord told Moses: “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He knows it is time for a good bath.