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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

Communion Table and feetwashing items
"Do This In Remembrance Of Me"

Maundy Thursday service
The Communion Elements

"Sharing A Precious Faith"

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"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1).

Consider particular beliefs, customs or practices of Christians that seem strange to the world. In contrast the world has a lot of strange beliefs, customs and practices from my viewpoint!

Yesterday a Christian employee was sharing with Brooksyne some teachings from Scripture while another employee was working beside her. After their brief interchange the employee shook her head and declared, "You guys are crazy!" The employee professes to be an atheist and lives a hard life, yet through our chaplaincy service, she has become a friend though theologically they have nothing in common.

Most churches, in various ways, practice Communion or "The Lord's Supper". This ceremony seems strange to the world and sadly some churches have minimized the practice for this reason. But it was at this very time during Holy Week that Jesus established it and the Apostle Paul later stated, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). We see in the New Testament it was a practice in the early church.

Maundy Thursday service footwashingOur church also practices a similar ceremony not as commonly practiced. Once a year we hold a "footwashing" service. The denomination I served during my 25 years of pastoral service did not practice this regularly in most of their churches, although it might have been done on retreats and special occasions. I had done so a few times as a sermon illustration regarding humility and servanthood.

Each year on Maundy Thursday we enjoy a light meal together, Scripture reading, singing, testimonies and sharing together in communion. The men and women are then dismissed to separate rooms where they gather in a circle and one by one wash the feet of the person sitting next to them.
In the photo to the right Brooksyne is washing and praying over a sister. Each group not only prays one with another but sings hymns and choruses with the cross and resurrection theme. Finally we join together again and hear a brief meditation and share testimonies. It's a wonderful evening of fellowship with one another and with our Lord Jesus who suffered on our behalf.

Christ washing disciple's feetThe first Biblical footwashing was held at the Last Supper and is recorded in John 13. Earnest Christians differ on the extent this should be continued which is a matter of interpretation of John 13:14,15 which states, "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." Some churches, like ours, see this as a literal command. Others (actually most) see it as figurative, an illustration of service, which we also believe it is as well.

Peter, who most certainly was among the most prominent of Christ's disciples, opens his final epistle by first asserting his servanthood even before his apostleship,
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ". Perhaps the kind rebuke of Jesus at the footwashing had really hit home. "I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him" (John 13:16). Regardless of what positions or titles we may have, like Peter, we must always remember that we are called to serve.

2 Peter 1:1The letter is written "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." That's us! The apostle Paul most clearly developed and articulated for the church the glorious doctrine of imputed righteousness, but Peter clearly expresses it here.

I find particular blessing in the phrase, "like precious faith." Wow. What a unique advantage of faith Peter had. He had walked and talked with the Lord during His earthly ministry. But in this passage Peter is writing to second-generation believers. He had written in his first epistle: "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8,9). 

We have received a faith as "precious" as Peter and the other disciples and apostles! The underlying Greek word for "precious", means "of equal value or honor". The NASV translates the phrase, "a faith of the same kind as ours." Today among the inevitable challenges of life don't forget this great gift!

I wonder if Peter had any possible thought that his words would reach generations some 2000 years after writing about the wonderful truths and experiences God has for us. Only the Scriptures bring about life changing messages that transform lives and prepare us for eternity. Just consider the opportunities we have to speak daily of our "precious faith" and allow the world to see this faith at work in our lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the many, many precious saints spread throughout the whole world, who have obtained like precious faith through Your righteousness and the righteousness that comes through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Though we have not seen You, we love You, and though we cannot see You now we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for we are among the redeemed who have an inheritance awaiting us in heaven, where no moth, rust or decay destroys. No matter the evil that surrounds us or the temptations that abound we seek to remain steadfast, immoveable and always abounding in the work of the Lord walking in the steps of our Saviour. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Prayer for Kenyan believers: Father, we pray for the family and friends of the 70 plus university students of Kenya who have been slaughtered due to their faith in Christ. While they were praying to You,
the most holy God, in the pre-dawn hours, the radical terrorists were following the orders of Satan, the ruler of evil. We pray for those who are injured and suffering as well as those who have been captured, over 300 at last count. God, we need a miraculous intervention, a mighty sweeping of Your Holy Spirit of conviction and deliverance from evil that we might see a worldwide revival. Fortify other Kenyan believers so that they are not disheartened or paralyzed by fear or discouragement. Your Word says, "You will call upon me and I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble, I will deliver you and honor you" (Psalm 91:15). We seek Your help here and now, yet we also feel peace in our hearts, that if deliverance is not here, those who perish at the hands of evildoers are transferred into a place where sin does not abide, where rest is eternal, and the Crown of Life is awarded the faithful servant of Christ. Amen.

Maundy Thursday service footwashing
Ester looked down the hall last year into the men's gathering where we held our footwashing and snapped this photo of the younger serving the older.

Footwashing service 03/28/13
Jesse and Jim, two of our retired pastor friends washing one another's feet following the example of Christ, who washed the disciple's feet.

Footwashing service 03/28/13
Following the footwashing the elder brothers pronounced blessing upon each other as, in the words of Paul, they also "greeted each other heartily in the Lord". Jesse, age 92, will share the devotional in our service this evening.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"A Strange Way To Save The World"  Video  4HIM  Video  Mark Harris This actually a Christmas-themed song but the message is also appropriate during this season.

"As I Have Done For You"  Video   Dan Schutte

"As I Have Done For You"  Video   Alexander Barut

"It Is Finished!"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  Later this month (April 24) we will be going to hear the Gaither Vocal Band and other Homecoming Singers at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. Readers
in central PA who may be interested see here.

Footwashing scene from "Second Chance"  Video  Powerful! Interesting in light of point made early in today's message a comment states "this is crazy stuff!"

A brief teaching on footwashing and example  Video  

Concerning the photo posted yesterday of our friend Rick with his tie tucked in Jim, a thoughtful reader from New Braunfels, Texas wrote, "When I was in the Air Force from 1952-1972, when we wore our tan uniform, the blue necktie was always tucked in to the shirt, as in the picture you posted. It was not just to keep it out of machinery, but was regulation, to make everyone look neat, and uniform, with no tie flapping in the wind. If you look at some WW2 pictures, you will see the same thing.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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