Want to Be a Bearer of Justice? Have your Feet Washed.


“True bearers of justice are people who have had their feet washed.” –Gwen McVicker

I am blessed to have an extraordinary mother-in-law. Gwen is the woman God used to first crack open my heart for justice, right alongside the prophet Isaiah. I’ve had the privilege of writing a 40-day prayer journal with her, traveling with her and other women on a trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China and attend a PASCH (Peace and Safety in the Christian Home) conference in Washington D.C. a few years ago.

Last year I experienced two weeks of deep Sisterhood bliss with her and seven other women as we loved and told stories and laughed and cried with women in Berlin, Serbia, Slovakia and Vienna.

Gwen (in the middle) with the lovely Vesna (on left) who pastors and runs a pregnancy care center in Novi Sad.

Gwen teaches me about not going it alone, but about doing Life and ministry together. In community. She’s even had us preach a “collective sermon”–all eight of us girls on the Europe trip standing in front of a church in Novi Sad, Serbia. It made sense.

Gwen teaches me about radical Love and grace. Nearly ten years ago, she started inviting women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to their home on the Sunshine Coast for a three-day retreat. These are beautiful women. Hurting women. Courageous women. Some women with the most horrendous stories of violence and abuse. Some who have worked as prostitutes. Others who struggle with addiction. Most of them kicking my butt with their wit and intelligence and Love.

It was a privilege to be there for that first retreat--called The Journey–at Linwood House. It is still, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful expressions of God’s heart right here in Canada.

Gwen’s heart beats with the heart of God. As simple as that.

Justice Sunday

Recently Gwen and our sistafriend Sue Todd were asked to speak at Cap Church Vancouver on JUSTICE Sunday. Musu Taylor-Lewis’ post on footwashing on SheLovesmagazine today reminded me of this message again: On how we need to become “a footwashing, healing reflection of the justice of Jesus.”

Gwen speaks on images of water–a basin of water, a cup of water and even a river of justice running through the nations. She reminds us of Jesus’ words: “If I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

Footwashing is a symbol of love, service and … even justice.

I remember first listening to the podcast, soaking in a bubble bath one afternoon, near the end of my rope. I was tired … and needed reminding:

“Unless your feet be washed, you will not be able to wash the feet of another.

She adds: “To minister love and grace and justice as an equal graciously, I suggest, if you do not allow God to wash your feet, that you would administer justice with power over an oppressed person. You will administer justice as one who is stronger than, or better than. That is not God’s justice.”

Gwen says: ” (O)ur role is to care deeply, to become a footwashing, healing reflection of the justice of Jesus. True bearers of justice are people who have had their feet washed. Somewhere between the shedding of our masks and the footwashing, it is not what we do that touches lives and administers justice, but it is who we are becoming.”

“So we rest in the truth that what is most important is not how much of ourselves we leave with others, but how much we enable others to become all that the God of Justice desires.”

Receiving is humbling. Having my feet washed reminds me what it’s like to receive from that place of deep vulnerability. If I want to enter into spaces with women who are deeply vulnerable, how dare I not receive from that same, deeply vulnerable place?

I am thankful for a mom-in-law who washes my feet and teaches me the humble ways of administering and receiving justice.

Listen to the whole teaching here: JUSTICE Sunday sermon, by Gwen McVicker and Sue Todd. It’s also available on iTunes as a podcast.


I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments! It’s kinda like sitting down and having your feet washed.

  • http://www.smoochesfromheaven.com Michele Henter

    “Footwashing is a symbol of love, service and … even justice.”
    servanthood…it takes so many different forms…
    love your heart for this world my friend.

    • idelette

      You are a wonderful washer of feet, my friend. I do hope you get yours washed very regularly. Keeping our cups full …

  • http://aglowingember.blogspot.com Carolynn

    I have had my feet washed and, let me tell you, it is a powerful, powerful act of love that touched me in ways nothing else ever has before or since. Gwen sounds like an amazing woman whose very beingness is an act of worship and blessing to others. Wow.

    • idelette

      It so is … I remember my first time. I was in Taiwan at a retreat on a mountain. Nothing quite like receiving it, I agree.

      I’m blessed to have a Mama-in-law like her.

  • Autumn

    I agree there is truly something beautiful about having your feet washed by another that touches the soul ..so glad Jesus demonstrated it to us <3
    AND I love what your mother in law ,Gwen does for the women at her home , inspires me greatly xo

  • http://justineh.blogspot.com Justine

    Ouch! (a good kind of ouch!) I really struggle with receiving and doing Life together with others. But these words challenge my orphan latch-key kid tendencies in all the right ways. Thank you…

    • idelette

      Ahhhh, I get that … I tend to want to do the washing too. For sure. It’s such a tender, intimate place to receive … But for that exact reason I have to do it. I’m still learning to embrace my vulnerability. (Thanks, Jesus + Brene Brown!)

  • Susan Dunlap

    Beautiful! I love this. And I remember my washing. Life changing to give and receive one!

    • http://idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, Susan! And thank you for visiting here. I need to dust off this space … #truth