Maundy Thursday is a foot-washing day for Christians, emphasising mutual service. But a bishop has given the tradition a new twist by shining boots at St Pancras station to raise funds for Zimbabwe.
The shoe-shining stall was set out on the main concourse of the international train station, which acts as a gateway to Europe, between 8am - 10am and 3pm - 6pm today (9 April 2009), to coincide with rush-hour.
Busily buffing the shoes and giving the boots a lick of polish for charity were Bishop Michael Doe, General Secretary of the Anglican mission agency USPG, and St Pancras chaplain the Rev Jonathan Barker.
The bishop explained: “Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, on the evening before Good Friday. In doing so, he demonstrated to his followers that they should be servants, willing to live in humility and work for the good of others. This was his new commandment or, in Latin, mandatum, from which comes the term ‘Maundy’ Thursday.”
He continued: “In Jesus’ day, washing feet was a task normally reserved for servants. Traditionally, many clergy wash the feet of their parishioners on Maundy Thursday. It was felt that shoe-shining was a modern equivalent.”
Money raised at the shoe-shining sessions will help to support social projects in Zimbabwe, including orphanages, feeding programmes and hospitals.
Mr Barker said: "I was a parish priest for a year in Zimbabwe, in 1991, and what is happening there now is completely disastrous. However, in Holy Week, we want to show that redemption is possible."
USPG's website is here: http://www.uspg.org.uk/