The story is told of a bishop in the north east of England who arrived to conduct a confirmation service for those wishing to confirm their baptismal vows. As the service was about to start the doors opened and a punk rocker walked in, resplendent in leather jacket, ripped jeans, Mohican hair and numerous chains and piercings. A friend of one of the candidates he made his way slowly to the front of the church looking for somewhere to sit, but every seat was taken. He had no option but to sit on the floor at the very front of the church. In hushed silence eyes moved between the punk and the bishop wondering what the latter might do. As the opening hymn began the bishop stood, left his seat, walked to the punk, and sat down on the floor next to him. In that simple act of humility the bishop communicated that the punk was welcome and that he belonged.
All such similar acts of self-sacrifice stem from the greatest act of humility of them all, when Jesus, at the last supper with his friends, took on the role of a slave and washed their feet. Having just exhorted them to ‘love their neighbour as themselves’ it was a stunning example of what such love must look like.