In an act of great love, Jesus gave his life for ours. The Brethren, as Jesus’ followers, love God and each other—and take that love into the world. Once or twice a year, Brethren celebrate what the earliest Christians called agape: the outflowing love that seeks not to receive but to give.
Jesus taught us this practice, sharing with his disciples a last, loving meal the night before he died. He washed the disciples’ feet, ate supper with them, sought to draw them closer into the fold of his love, and offered them the symbolic bread and cup.
During love feast, we repeat these simple, meaningful acts. After reconciling any discord among ourselves, we lovingly wash each other’s feet, then enjoy a meal together. Quietly we share communion, the bread and the cup that remind us of Jesus’ great gift; we renew our commitment to follow his example of sacrificial love. Congregations may also observe the eucharist, or bread-and-cup communion, at other times and in other settings.
Love feast closes with a hymn; then follows the humble task of cleaning up, in which all are invited to participate. When we leave the feast, reunited in our dedication to Christ and to each other, the deep, nourishing love goes with us.
Jesus knew that this evening, this meal, was the last time he and his twelve disciples would gather as a group. He wanted his followers to remember, in the difficult days ahead, why he had come and what he had taught them. When the disciples began to argue about which of them was more important, Jesus decided to make his lesson plain: Taking a towel and a basin of water, this great teacher knelt beside the first disciple—and did not stop until, like a lowly servant, he had washed the feet of each one there.
By including the service of feetwashing in our love feast, Brethren imitate Jesus’ actions and honor his lessons. No person ought to be greater than another, Jesus taught. Love has no need to prove status or position; love simply gives—and keeps on giving.
A symbolic, cleansing act, feetwashing prepares us for the meal and communion that follow. It reminds us that, in God’s sight, everyone needs loving attention, and everyone can offer that service to others. First we humbly accept attention and care from the one who washes our feet. Then we in turn wash someone else’s feet. After each act of feetwashing, the two people embrace and share a simple phrase of blessing.
In receiving this emblem of God’s cleansing grace, we remember that as followers of Jesus, we can help distribute God’s blessing to others—through steady, loving service, symbolically washing the feet of the world.