Washing the feet of the weirdos

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If you’ve ever spent any time with me, I can guarantee that you know at least two things about me. The first being that I spend nearly all of my free time in coffee shops. The second being that my life is weird.

Maybe my own personal weirdness sends out a vibe to all the other weirdos in the world that screams, “Hey! This lady is crazy so come do all your crazy stuff in her vicinity!” Or maybe I have some sign on my back that is invisible to me but that invites people to lose their ever-loving minds in my presence… Either way, my love for coffee and my attractiveness to insanity came to a head yesterday afternoon in an absolutely hilarious way.

I had yesterday off from work because Thursday night was the Street School‘s ginormous annual fundraiser. After sleeping in until roughly one o’clock (Go ahead, judge me.) I got cleaned up and biked over to my favorite coffee shop in Five Points. (For those of you non-Denver-ites, Five Points is a notoriously terrible part of town that has been known for its random violence, gang territories, homeless population, & drug problem for the last thirty years or so. For those of you who are related to me and are currently freaking out, calm down.)

I absolutely adore Purple Door Coffee. Not only do they play my favorite music, have comfy couches, and serve delicious coffee, but they have an incredibly unique mission. When the owners, Madison and Mark, moved to Denver they knew that they wanted to open a coffee shop in a neighborhood like Five Points because their plan was to employ at-risk street youth who had a greater vision for their lives than to live in poverty forever.

Unfortunately however, their vision and their location clash sometimes simply due to the fact that the cute coffee shop stands out like a lit candle in the midst of a rather rundown neighborhood. Since their grand opening a year ago, they’ve had bricks thrown through their windows, they’ve been harassed, and they’ve dealt with unique situations like the one I witnessed yesterday.

Anyway, while I was locking up my bike, I watched a man who appeared to be homeless walk past me and into Purple Door– a pretty normal occurrence given the neighborhood.

About ten minutes later, I had ordered my latte, chatted with Madi, and had taken my usual seat in one of the white comfy chairs. I watched Mark as he calmly knocked on the door of the men’s restroom, sweetly telling the man who had walked in before me, that it had been about ten minutes, and that other people needed to use the restroom. No answer came from within the bathroom and Mark just looked at me and sighed before walking away. Without thinking much about it, I opened my school work and got down to business.

About ten minutes later, Mark knocked on the door again. The man inside yelled something that no one on our side of the door could understand and Mark walked away yet again. About fifteen minutes later, Mark walked back over to the door, knocked, and kindly asked the man once more to come out of the bathroom.

With a loud crack, the door swung open, and honestly I wish I would’ve had my camera out so I could’ve captured the stunned look on Mark’s face.

The man I had seen roughly half an hour earlier with hair about as long as my own, walked nonchalantly past Mark and out the side door… No big deal, right? Ha! Wrong.

As he walked out of the bathroom, clumps of hair that had obviously been patchily shaved off this man’s head fell to the floor forming a bizarre trail out the side door.

His head? Nearly bald. The bathroom and anything he had touched? Completely covered in tufts of long black hair.

Once the shock of the moment wore off, Mark and I made eye contact and simultaneously burst out into laughter.

How else do you handle something so weird? The homeless gentleman was gone, leaving behind only a reminder that Purple Door Coffee and its surrounding environment weren’t quite cut from the same cloth.

As Madison swept up the clumps of hair in the lobby and Mark tackled the bathroom laughing to himself, I was struck with how similar the crew of PDC is to Jesus. Not once did they grumble about the filth that they were left to clean up, nor did they say, “Well, we obviously made a mistake coming into this neighborhood. We should close this shop and open a new one in a place that actually seems to have its crap together.”

No. They are walking through the filth of Five Points to reach its people for Jesus, just like Jesus worked to literally clean the filth off the feet of the disciples in John 13 or how how we permanently cleansed us of the filth of our sins through His death.

Life isn’t pretty or clean, and people are most definitely weird, but just like Jesus, we as Christians have been called to step outside of our comfort zones and love the weird, the filthy, the unstable, and the broken by washing their feet.

What a beautiful calling it is to love our world, as Christ has first loved us.

Whose feet are you washing today? Where is God using you in your community?

When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
(John 13:12-15 ESV)

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