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Several years ago, I went to visit my grandmother in rural Virginia. The timing of the trip happened to coincide with the annual Love Feast held at her Church of the Brethren congregation. A Love Feast is a celebration and remembrance of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and the Lord’s Supper. She was so excited for me to attend this special event with her.

What I remember from that event was simple. Grandmother washed my feet. I washed hers.

In John 13 we read:

“After Jesus had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.”

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I am thankful for this memory, for this tradition that put flesh and bone to story in John. For me, it’s also an example of my family’s emphasis of serving others. Not because we’re somehow better, but in response to the incredible, humble, sacrificial love Christ gave first to us.

My work at Lutheran World Relief gives me an opportunity every day to remember this inheritance of humble service and to live it out. I am thankful that LWR’s values echo my own in so many ways, and my work here gives me an opportunity every day to remember this inheritance of humble service and to live it out.

Sometimes, foot washing involves a basin and a towel. Other times, it could look like an LWR staff team spending months listening to a community in preparation for a new project.

It might look like soap, towels and toothbrushes for a travel-weary family arriving at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Or like one community sharing their knowledge about building a water system with a neighboring community on a mountain in the Philippines.

It might look like peace building in Colombia, or paying farmers a fair wage for their crops in Uganda.

It might look like the faithful group of quilters who meet every Wednesday to sew and tie Quilts for LWR, or the gift of one of those Quilts to an orphaned child at an HIV/AIDS clinic in India.

I am thankful to be part of this global community, along with each of you. I am thankful for your faithful service that inspires me, and reminds me that each small thing we do is a way of responding to Christ’s call to us every day.


Lord who comes to us with a basin and towel, thank you for your example of service to the world. You call us to serve all those around the world, from the Philippines to Colombia to Uganda and all nations in-between. Give your servants the strength to go to those places they are needed the most. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

Melanie Gibbons is LWR’s Quilt & Kit Ministry Manager