Maundy Thursday wasn't a holy day I celebrated until recently. Even now I am been hit-or-miss with my observance of it. When I was a youth my church did foot washing, but it was during the New Year's Service, along with communion. I don't know where or why that tradition was implemented. The last time I was in a church where the sacrament (?) of foot washing was offered I participated, but hesitantly. I don't get it in a modern context. I understand what foot washing meant in the ancient world where there were no shoes or paved sidewalks, but not today. I presume some may suggest that the same can be said of the Eucharist (or, "communion," or, "the Lord's Supper"), but I guess observing that ritual makes more sense to me because it's reception history has given in layers of meaning that bridge the first and twenty-first centuries in a way inapplicable to foot washing. Also, Eucharist is a tad more "catholic" if you will: we find a "Last Supper" of sorts in all four canonized Gospels as well as Paul's letter 1 Corinthians. We find foot washing only in the Gospel of John. I say all that to say this: what is it that makes a tradition worth observing continually? What makes a ritual worth passing along from one generation to the next? Does the symbolism need to be relevant? Does it need a layered "meaning" that bridges eras? For Christians, does it merely have to be "biblical," i.e., something found in a canonized text?
The language of the Eucharist means something in the present as does the language of foot washing, but does performance matter in the same way. In other words, does the performance of foot washing connect us to the meaning of the ritual in the same way that the performance of the Eucharist connects us to the meaning of the ritual? Or, would it be better for the meaning of foot washing to be performed outside of a ritual, say in some service to the less fortunate, or in some act of reconciliation and service toward one with whom we've become distant or even antagonistic? Would it be better to find an estranged family member who is not part of the community of faith and serve them as Jesus served his disciples than it would be to go to church to awkwardly reenact Jesus' washing of feet for people who were probably quite intentional about manicuring and beautifying their feet earlier that day? If so, is the same true of Eucharist? Is the "breaking of bread" better done in hosting an actual meal for others, sharing one's food, or is the symbolism too important? I have nothing to say further, just some thoughts whirling in my head that have whirled there before and will whirl there again.
Picture source: http://thinkorswimwhyashesonashwednesday.blogspot.com/2014/04/maundy-thursday.html