Shoeshine Mister?

Once, many years ago, I attended a United Methodist Men’s breakfast. Some of you may remember that, back in the Sixties and Seventies, we wore smooth leather shoes that needed polishing: today we wear sneakers. Modern sneakers are designed for all sorts of sports and casual wear. But back then sneakers were for the gym. Men wore leather shoes that needed to be polished. We wore them to work or school, shopping and, of course, to church. Now, in many grocery stores, shopping centers and other public places there was often a man who had a shoe shine stand. This was usually a Black man, especially in the South, which is where I lived. This shoe-shine man was in many ways a true ‘second class citizen’. If you could afford a servant, you would most certainly have him shine your shoes. If not, you did it yourself, or paid this shoe-shine man to shine them for you. Well, just outside the door to the room where the Men’s breakfast was being served was one of the men of our church, with a shoe shine kit. He was shining the shoes of every man who entered. When I saw this, I immediately understood the impact of Jesus’ washing the Disciples feet. I knew exactly why Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet. I didn’t want this man to shine my shoes. And I had to humble myself to let him do this.

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