On Maundy Thursday every year somewhere in the country you can find members of our churches shining shoes for strangers on our high streets. The free shoe shine offers a way of talking to people about Jesus’s washing of the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper – and then telling them the Easter story.
It’s always good to remind people what are great Christian festivals are all about. This year the Church of England is trying something different – and we’re hoping that as many of our churches and schools will get involved. Our new campaign is #washday16, and yes, it’s all about washing. We want people to get out into the community and wash – whether that’s cars, windows, curtains, road signs or pets.
Anything that can be offered as a free gift of love and that makes a difference in the community will do. It’s about showing that Christians not afraid of getting their hands dirty in the service of others. #washday16 was inspired by two things. First, there’s a church in Los Angeles that runs a project called Laundry Love. Laundry Love is all about members of the congregation getting together with homeless people to help wash their clothes, and then sharing pizza together. The simple fact of having clean clothes to wear can help people down on their luck to find their way back into employment and housing.
And then there was the ice-bucket challenge that was so popular last summer. You may remember that people competed to find entertaining ways of getting soaked in the name of charity. Friends nominated each other, and the momentum built. People had a lot of fun doing something silly, and raised money for the much-needed fight against Motor Neurone Disease in the process. The fact that it was simple and easy to do was part of its success.
#washday16 is just as simple. What could be easier than brightening up someone’s day by offering to do their washing up? People of all ages can take part. You may want to link it to fundraising for a charity such as WaterAid.
If you’re in search of ideas, have a look at www.washday.org which has tells you everything you need to know. Think what might work in your community. And then pick up your sponges and wash – and please take pictures and tweet, using the hashtag #washday16 to inspire others.
Photo: Gill Lovell #washday15