March 2010


Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35

      Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
       He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
      Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”  
      Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
       After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.  Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.  If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
       Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.  If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.  Little children, I am with you only a little longer.  You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
      “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

from Rev. Thaddaeus B. Allen, Regional Minister:

Tonight is a sacred time as we enter into the Easter Triduum.   As we prepare the events that will unfold, we hear again, that Jesus gives his people a New Commandment (13:34).  In his service and in the foreshadowing of his saving work, our Lord asks us to love one another. 

Some will experience foot washing this night.  Most will participate in the Lord’s Supper this night.  In all of our worship we will be called to a renewed sense of service and being.  God, through Jesus, is calling us to a sacrificial way of life.  This life is laid out for us in Jesus.  And as participants in life with Jesus, he simply calls us to love.  On this day, there can be no doubt, of our Lord’s love for us always. 

Giver of every good and perfect gift, we humbly bow before you this day. 
We ask that you might give us the strength to love in new and powerful ways. 
You call us to a new way of being,
and we yield ourselves to you and to your church.  In Christ, we pray.

Read Isaiah 52:12 – 53:12

For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight;
      for the LORD will go before you,
      and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
See, my servant shall prosper;
      he shall be exalted and lifted up,
      and shall be very high.
 
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
   –so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
     and his form beyond that of mortals–
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
     for that which had not been told them they shall see,
     and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
 
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
      For he grew up before him like a young plant,
      and like a root out of dry ground;
      he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
      nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
      He was despised and rejected by others;
      a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
      and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised,
      and we held him of no account.
 
Surely he has borne our infirmities
     and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
     struck down by God,
     and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
     crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment
     that made us whole,
     and by his bruises we are healed.
 
All we like sheep have gone astray;  
      we have all turned to our own way,
      and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
 
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
     yet he did not open his mouth;
     like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
     and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
     so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
 
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
     stricken for the transgression of my people.
 
They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich,
     although he had done no violence,
     and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.
 
When you make his life an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.
 
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
     he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
     and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
     and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
      because he poured out himself to death,
      and was numbered with the transgressors;
      yet he bore the sin of many,
      and made intercession for the transgressors.

from Rev. David Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

            It may be difficult to find any redeeming virtue in times of unjust or unwarranted suffering.  None of us want to imagine those we love being treated with the cruelty suffered by the Servant described in this text.  Yet beyond what the eye can see or the imagination can embrace, is the redeeming word of hope to all who are afflicted, to all who suffer:  “Out of his anguish shall he see light … the righteous one shall make many righteous.”  God can bring out of the darkest night a new day.  Let us claim this day with gratitude to the One who redeems them all.

Gracious giver of all our days, grant us open spirits
to see your redeeming grace at work in the dark places of our world,
and in the hard places of our lives.

Read Isaiah 42:1-9

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
     my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
     he will bring forth justice to the nations.
 
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
     or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
     and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
 
He will not grow faint or be crushed
     until he has established justice in the earth;
     and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
 
Thus says God, the LORD,
     who created the heavens and stretched them out,
     who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
     who gives breath to the people upon it
     and spirit to those who walk in it:
          I am the LORD,
          I have called you in righteousness,
          I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
          I have given you as a covenant to the people,
             a light to the nations,
             to open the eyes that are blind,
             to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
             from the prison those who sit in darkness.
 
          I am the LORD,
          that is my name;
          my glory I give to no other,
          nor my praise to idols.
          See, the former things have come to pass,
               and new things I now declare;
          before they spring forth,
               I tell you of them.

from Rev. Aaron Watkins, First Christian Church, Bluefield:

            “I am God. That’s my name.”  These are the words of the Prophet as paraphrased in Eugene Peterson’s The Message. What is it that is so significant about a name?  We all have them.  So what?   The thing is they are our identities.  And the irony is for most of us our names were chosen by someone else, most likely our parents. Some of us in our lifetimes choose to change the names that were given for us before we entered this world.  For others they are changed when we get married.  Many of our names have meanings, some don’t. When it comes to God, we as the people of God call God by many names—Father, Creator, Lord and Maker are among many of them.  But first and foremost, He is the God who gave us a Savior in Jesus Christ.  He is the Almighty who calls us to live right and well.  Despite our sins, God continues to take our side and backs us up. Wow!  There is nothing more powerful than the name of God!

Holy God, may my lips and my life proclaim praise to your Name!

Read Psalm 51:1-13

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
 
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
 
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
 
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
 
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
 
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.

from Rev. Dr. Larry Grimes, Community Christian Church, Beech Bottom, WV and Bethany College Dir. of Church Relations:

 

Ready or not, here I come!
Before you do, hide your face from my sins
Ready or not, here I come!
Before you do, blot out all my iniquities.
Ready or not, here I come!
Before you do, blot out my transgressions.
Ready or not, here I come!
Before you do, scrub me clean, wash me white
Ready or not, here I come!
Before you do, meet me with your steadfast love
Ready or not here I come
Before you do, greet me with your mighty mercy
Ready or not here I come!
As you do, let me sing with joy and gladness
Ready or not here I come!
As you do, let my crushed bones rejoice
 
Ready or not here I come!

Read Luke 19:28-40

      After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'”
      So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”  They said, “The Lord needs it.”  Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.  As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.
      As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
      Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”  He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

from Rev. Judy Bennett, Island Christian Church, Wheeling:

            As I grow older, I find it increasingly hard to tolerate noise and confusion.  Loud music, TV, radio, crowds where people are yelling at the top of their lungs:  all of these things and more seem to unnerve me.  And I’ve just come to realize how noisy this passage from Luke seems to be.  People singing and shouting – each one attempting to outdo the others.  The scowling Pharisees trying to get Jesus to quiet them.  People throwing cloaks and waving branches.  Why, it’s a wonder the poor little donkey didn’t buck and run.

            And Jesus calmly declares “…if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”  Today, we are called to be loud and noisy in our praise of Jesus.  Not to stand complaining with those who would decry his presence.  God inhabits the praises of God’s people.   And so we shout for the world to hear – “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Praise to you, O God our Savior!
May our lips and our lives proclaim your coming in our lives!

Read Philippians 2:5-11

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
      who, though he was in the form of God,
          did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
          but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
          being born in human likeness.
      And being found in human form,
          he humbled himself and became obedient
          to the point of death– even death on a cross.
      Therefore God also highly exalted him
          and gave him the name that is above every name,
          so that at the name of Jesus
               every knee should bend,
                   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
          and every tongue should confess
               that Jesus Christ is Lord,
                    to the glory of God the Father.

from Rev. Jayne Chafin, First Christian Church, New Martinsville:

            Many years ago, someone gave me a little glass plaque on a stand with the words “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord,” written on it.  I can still see that in my mind.  I kept it on my bedside table for a long time.  There are days I wish I still had it.  After difficult days it is good to think on this text in rising or in retiring.  It moves from the sobering thought of having the “same mind” as Jesus to praising his name! 

            We are called forth this Lent and always to remember what Jesus has done for us and to look forward to that day when “every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Are you singing it with me?

May I sing the eternal song of Christ’s glory, O God,
as I rise up, and as I lie down,
confident of your renewing presence in my life.

Read Psalm 31:9-16

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
 
I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
 
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many– terror all around!
— as they scheme together against me,
   as they plot to take my life.
 
But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
 
My times are in your hand;
      deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
      save me in your steadfast love.

from Pastor Rod Hubbs, First Christian Church, McMechen:

            After reading this scripture, I think of how Jesus must have felt when He was entering Jerusalem.  Knowing what was going to happen to Him and still going ahead.   He knew that God was with Him.   So I ask myself, “Why am I sometimes afraid of the future when I know that God is with me as He promised He would be?”

            We sometimes forget what has been promised to us after we accept Christ as our Savior.  Why do we forget?  Because we are mere mortals.  That is one of the glories of the Lenten season.  It gives us a reminder of just how great God is.

     Let us rejoice and be glad as we renew our faith in our Lord and Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Glorious God and Father of us all,
we ask that you continue to make yourself known to us
throughout each and every day of this and every season.

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