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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

Boldt Castle
The Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands area of New York/Canada

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"Hallelujah, What A Savior!"

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not" (
Isaiah 53:3). "Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love" (John 13:1).

"Man of sorrows" what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Tonight in our church we will observe Maundy Thursday and, following Christ's example, we will have a footwashing service. This was not a regular practice in the churches either of us grew up in nor the churches we pastored (with the exception of the church we served for three years in Mastersonville, PA). It is a custom in the church we have attended since 2001 and we find the service very meaningful.

Footwashing serviceFollowing several designated Scripture readings centered around Christ's crucifixion and the singing of the hymns we break into two groups.

Customs vary, but an example of a footwashing service would include men and women going into separate rooms. They might sit in rows facing each other or in a circle. The first person begins by tying an apron around their waist, bends down and washes the feet of the one sitting across from or next to them. After they've rinsed the feet they gently dry that person's feet. It goes back and forth down the row or around the circle until everyone has had their feet washed and has had the opportunity of washing another's feet. Sometimes we pray for the person after washing their feet and we give each other a "holy" hug. Those who sit in the circle are usually singing familiar hymns about the blood of Jesus and the cross as we wash each other's feet.

Then we gather with the rest around the Lord's Table, share testimonies, and obey His command from the night He was betrayed to partake of Communion. This observance was directed by God to be a memorial as a lasting ordinance of our redemption and, believers in the last 2000 years, have continued to "do this in remembrance of Me", obeying these solemn words of our Lord.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned He stood,
sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

A tiny phrase from the second daily text is a great blessing. Jesus Christ demonstrated "the full extent of His love." The Amplified Bible further elaborates on this portion: "And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree."

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
spotless Lamb of God was He,
full atonement can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

As I consider this I wonder if it refers to what He did immediately following this (washed their feet) or what He did in the next several hours (dying on the cross for sins). I'm inclined to understand that John is using this as an introductory statement to the entire period of our Lord's intense suffering and sacrificial death.

He was lifted up to die;
"It is finished" was His cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Carving of Christ on CrossThe IVP commentary expounds on this passage: "Love is the laying down of one's life, and therefore to love completely means to love to the end of one's life. The love that has been evident throughout continues right up to the end. At the end, in the crucifixion, we will see the ultimate revelation of that love, that is, its full extent."

We especially remember and commemorate what God has done for us in demonstrating the full extent of His love in His death on the Cross of Calvary:
  • We remember His supreme sacrifice for us, as "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • We remember His great love for us, as "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
  • We remember His redemption plan for us, as He "gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:14).
  • We remember His grace-filled provision for us, as we recall that "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
When He comes, our glorious King,
all His ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we'll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. You willingly became the sacrificial Lamb whose substitutionary death freed me from the heavy shackles of sin, degradation, and eternal damnation. My response to Your act of mercy and grace toward me is that I place my faith in You and recognize that Your love; so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.

FootwashingMaundy Thursday, also referred to as Holy Thursday, is a commemoration of the Last Supper. This is the setting where Jesus took the role of a servant and washed the disciples feet and warned them of what was about to happen.  A simple explanation of the word, "Maundy" is that it is a derivative taken from the Latin "mandatum" or mandate, command ("A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you").  Jesus showed "the full extent of His love" through serving the disciples. His servant's heart was visible as He washed their feet (John 13:12-17).  Churches of various backgrounds continue to practice this act of servanthood since Jesus told the disciples, "Now that I, Your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).

The Ultimate Extended TableBrooksyne's note: I would add one further thought to the commentary in our message today. We see the full extent of God's love in sacrificing His Son, Jesus, in His death as the Son of Man.  He gave His all, physically! But the absolute fullest extent of God's love is yet to be celebrated  when we gather at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb in heaven. Jesus told the disciples at the last supper, "I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom" (Mt. 26:29). Jesus said this to His disciples and His message is for all who believe; that He is waiting for that Supreme Wedding Feast when we are joined with Him in heaven to partake again of this fruit of the vine. He has refrained, all these years, from His rightful privilege of enjoying the fruit of the vine that He created since that eventful last supper. Can you imagine the Love Feast that will be celebrated on that appointed day where He invites all His followers to sit at the Master's Table!

Yesterday we dealt with Christ's physical pain the Cross. A reader shared this perspective: I recall 3 years ago almost to the day when while at work my L5 disc “blew out”. (I always refer to it as a blown gasket.)  The pain was unbearable. I always would compare the pain to childbirth labor pain. (My wife usually rolls her eyes at that comparison.)

Being laid up for a day or two I took the time to reflect on the pain and suffering Jesus endured. The biggest difference between my pain and His was I didn’t see it coming, not to mention his physical pain was probably 1000 times more excruciating, but He knew what was coming while He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although the physical pain was bad enough the worst was yet come emotionally and spiritually with the loneliness on the Cross and separation from His Heavenly Father. When the news got out of what happen to me the love came pouring in from family and friends while He was abandoned. I was helpless and couldn’t avoid the pain; Jesus could have avoided it all. The nails didn’t hold Him to the cross, it was His love for us!

Further study on John 13

Thousand Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway

Here is another selection of photos from our trip this last weekend to northern New York. On Saturday we drove up to see the Saint Lawrence Seaway and Thousand Islands area. The Thousand Islands constitute an archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. You can see it's a very busy summer destination but was still quiet with
very little activity when we were there. I learned that Thousand Island salad dressing is named for this!

Ship on Saint Lawrence Seaway
When we got up to the Seaway, about 20 miles north of where we lodged in Watertown New York, I stepped out of a building when I spotted these colorful channel markers. I was delighted to see a large cargo ship coming up the River from the ocean to the Great Lakes.

Ship on Saint Lawrence Seaway
The seaway is closed to ships during the winter due to ice and it just reopened for the season. It turns out this was one of the first ships to come through this season! Here's a larger photo of this very ship, the "Baie St. Paul"  in a newspaper article.

Rock Island Lighthouse on Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Rock Island Lighthouse.

Boldt Castle
A closer view of the Boldt Castle
See here for information or more photos

Lake Ontario 3/22/13
We also drove over to the west from our hotel in Watertown to Sackett's Harbor to have a look at Lake Ontario that still had ice along the shore.

Rustic chair, Watertown, New York 3/24/13
Sunday morning while waiting for Brooksyne I sat in this over-sized rustic chair in the hotel lobby (the arms were made of lumber). For smaller people it was almost large enough to be a couch for two but for me it was a very comfortable extra wide chair!

Adirondack rustic furniture 3/24/13
This was the desk in our hotel lobby, otherwise known as rustic furniture.*

Google map of region in New York we visited this last weekend.

Amish children snow people 3/25/13 (Lee Smucker)
Yesterday our friend, Lee, whom we see in the course of our company chaplain work, shared this photo he had taken on an Amish farm earlier in the week along Strasburg Pike. We had the most snow of the season on Monday and it appears an Amish family made snow people with each of them "waving" to folks as they drove by. Click here for a larger photo. Lee told me by yesterday morning it was almost all melted.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

PP Bliss"Man of Sorrows What A Name" (AKA "Hallelujah, What A Savior!")  Video  Tommy Walker  This is the song used throughout the message today. The phrase "Man Of Sorrows" was taken from our first daily text. It was written by Philip P. Bliss, who was born in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, July 9, 1838. When we lived up that way we often passed a roadside historical marker on PA route 255 marking the place of his birth. His death was sudden. It occurred in a railway accident at Ashtabula, Ohio, Dec. 30, 1876. He had escaped from the car, but lost his life in trying to save his wife. His hymns have blessed the church greatly.

"Behold The Man"  Video   Annie Herring  A beautiful song based on our first daily text.

"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Video   Fernando Ortega

"O Sacred Head Now Wounded"
 Video  Fernando Ortega

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"
  Video  Maranatha! Praise Band

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video  Steve Green

"It's Still The Cross"
  Video  University Of Mobile

"The Wonderful Cross"  Video  Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman

* Rustic Furniture  Rustic furniture was originally made from whatever natural materials were in greatest supply, and often by poor people as items of trade for food or cash. It is associated with the Great Depression and other hard times in America; however, it is also associated with the Great Camps built by wealthy Americans in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Carving of Christ on CrossThe photo of our Lord on the cross in today's message is actually a wood carving made by Tom Jenkins, a professional woodcarver, whom we know only from this online writing ministry going back many years.

Tom has a wonderful testimony of deliverance and shares it in a written insert with each order. He has given me permission to share it with Daily Encouragement readers:  

"For thirty years I was a drunk; an intelligent drunk.

I always worked and was good at my job, but I drank every day; from the time that I got off work until I went to bed and on the weekends, from the time I got up until I passed out.

I admired good drinkers and only hung out with the drinkers.  I wouldn't go anywhere that I couldn't drink.

It's not as uncommon as you might think; no matter where I went I was able to find people just like me.  It was a way of life and I liked it.
The only problem was I couldn't do anything else...at least, not well.

I loved woodcarving but could only do it for a few hours at a time.  I knew myself well enough to know that I could never do it for a living. It would get in the way of my drinking.

My wife started going to church and she chose to attend a church 60 miles away in Phoenix.  She always asked me if I wanted to go but never pushed.  I eventually gave in so she packed me a 6-pack; three beers on the way to church and three beers for the ride home; a pretty good deal for me.

I was content and my wife was glad that I was going to church.  But then after several months of this on Super Bowl Sunday in 1997, half way to Phoenix I started to cry.  I told my wife that I had to be prayed for, that I had to quit drinking.

I was prayed for and I confessed my sins to Jesus.

That was the last day that I drink any alcohol.  I had no side affects; no shakes, no bad dreams, no sleepless nights and no desire to drink. Jesus took it all away and I am free today.

That's why I'm able to be here.

My carvings are signed "T&J" for Tom and Jesus because I couldn't be doing this without Jesus."

Tom's website.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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