Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet

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It was a job reserved for servants.  Not just any servants, either. Only the lowliest of servants washed the guests’ feet. Any man wealthy enough to have servants could expect to have one wash the dust from his feet on a daily basis.

Imagine this: You come home after a hard day’s work and collapse in your favorite chair. Almost immediately, a man kneels before you, setting a basin of water on the floor next to your tired, dirty feet. You look down, expecting to see your servant. Instead, you see the son of God kneeling before you. The One who created the heavens and the earth loosens your shoes. His strong, pierced hands hold your bare foot—your grimy, smelly foot!

Gently He dips your feet into the warm water and scrubs away all the dirt and odors of the day. Then He takes a towel from around His waist and blots your clean feet dry. You feel ashamed that the God who created you has done a servant’s task. When you protest, He responds, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13: 14 & 15).

Food for thought: Following Jesus example, in what ways can you “wash other’s feet”? How do you humble yourself before God? Before others?

Palm Sunday Meditation

One sleepless night not too long ago, I lay awake, imagining what it must have been like to watch a king enter the ancient city of Jerusalem.

I can still see it vividly in my mind’s eye.  Before I can even glimpse the king, trumpets herald his arrival.  Soon 40 soldiers enter the crowded city, each proudly straddling a high-stepping stallion.  Eyes staring at the road ahead, the men ride ramrod straight, armor and weapons glinting in the sun.  Between the two groups of mounted soldiers rolls an ornate carriage, resplendent with gold leaf.  Four perfectly matched black stallions, crimson ribbons braided into their manes and tails, pull the carriage effortlessly.  In that carriage sits the perfectly tailored king, his brocade coat trimmed in ermine.  Rubies and emeralds adorn his fingers.  The golden crown, encrusted with precious stones, reflects the bright sunlight.  As he passes, the cheering throng bows low, each man hoping the king will scatter some coins his way.

How different was our King’s triumphal entry!  No trumpets heralded his arrival.  No soldiers, no horses came before Him.  Instead of an elaborate entourage, He was accompanied by a few simple men, broad shouldered and tanned from hard, outdoor work. They walked alongside Him, wearing roughly woven clothes.  Jesus sat astride a young donkey.  He wore no gold nor gems, but only a simple cloak and sandals.  Although Jesus had no coins to throw to the people, His intangible gifts were far more costly than gold.  A slight smile played at the corners of His mouth, but the dark brown eyes filled with sorrow.  In spite of His poverty and ordinary appearance, the people sensed something special about this man.  They loudly cheered, “Hosanna, King of Kings!” and lay palm branches at His feet.

How quickly the cries of the crowd changed!  A few short days later the cheers of “Hosanna” changed to jeers and shouts of “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  Many of those who had proclaimed Him king now clamored for his death.  Even his closest friends ran away and denied they even knew him.

How, I wonder, could these people change so quickly?  How could they proclaim him king one day, and not even acknowledge his existence the next?  As I sit quietly and think, I realize, with humility and shame, that I have done the very same thing.  How many times have I gone on my merry way, never acknowledging Christ as the king of my life, never seeking His divine guidance?  How many times do I denying His existence by failing to speak out against injustice or not sharing His good news with another?  If He is truly king of my life, why do I not get down on my knees every day and praise my spiritual king?

Jesus, king of my life, help me to bow in humble obedience and recognition of your lordship in my life.

Choices

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” 

                                                                                                –Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Every morning as I prepare for my day, I decide what to wear.  Looking in my closet, I have choices.  Do I wear a skirt today?  Slacks?  Jeans?  What top coordinates with the skirt or pants?  Both must match in color and appropriateness for the weather and occasion.  Next, I decide on appropriate accessories.  Which shoes?  Belt?  Scarf?  Jewelry?  All these choices match one another to create a unified whole.  Once I make my decisions and dress, I’m ready for the day.

Just as I daily choose what clothes I’ll wear, I have choices in what to don from my spiritual closet.   What shall I wear?  Shall it be a spirit of complaining or gratefulness?  If I choose complaining, I accessorize with sorrow and bitterness, to create a coordinated ensemble.  I wonder: Is this what a child of God would wear?  Is this appropriate attire for the daughter of the King?  Instead, I choose to wear gratefulness.  To match gratefulness, I choose compassion and humility, which naturally complement one another.  To accessorize, I choose good deeds for my feet.  The sparkling gem of God’s love unifies the ensemble.  Now I’m ready for the day. 

Father God, help me make wise choices as I choose clothing from my spiritual closet.

(I first published this devotional in The Secret Place, Fall 2017)

An Encouraging Word…especially for those who grieve

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Even though He knew Lazarus had died and was buried, Jesus wept. He knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He wept. When he saw Mary weeping, He wept. Like the tip of an iceberg, these two simple words give us a glimpse of the depth of Jesus’ love and compassion.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matt. 5:4 NIV).

I pray that those of you who are grieving will experience His peace and comfort.

God’s Embrace

I first published this article in The Secret Place, Fall 2016

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”  Deuteronomy 33:26a (NIV)  

A tickle deep in my throat prompted me to leave the sanctuary during the sermon. I got a drink, coughed, and blew my nose where the noise wouldn’t disturb others. Standing outside the nursery, I heard several little ones crying. On an impulse, I opened the door, ready to help.

As soon as I walked in the room, a little cherub of 2 or 3 walked toward me with arms outstretched. I sat on the floor and she climbed into my lap and placed her head on my chest. After a few moments she got up and played with one of the toys. Soon she was back on my lap, ready for more snuggling. For the rest of the service, she didn’t say a word, but quietly cuddled.

I didn’t hear the sermon that morning. My sermon came in actions, not words. A little toddler reminded me that God will hold and comfort us whenever we walk toward him with arms open wide.

PRAYER: Abba Father, let me be like the little child, my arms open wide to receive your comforting embrace.

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What will I do for Lent?

When I was a child, I remember my dad always gave up something for Lent. He might forgo desserts for the season or give up some other indulgence. I never knew why he did this, but I know he was always faithful in it.

This image that has been circulating on Facebook has given me a different way to view Lent. Last year, I gave up chocolate (an enormous sacrifice!) and desserts. This year, I’m going to re-read the words of Pope Francis, and consider my words and attitudes. But I want to do more than giving up, or fasting from things. This year I am going to study and meditate on the book of Luke. I’m going to look at the life of Christ and ask him to help me to live and love like Him. I aspire to give of my time and talents. This month I’m hoping to knit five hats for the homeless as a way to help those less fortunate.

What about you? Are you doing anything special for Lent? Are you fasting? Are you giving? I’d love to hear what you’re planning.

My Faith Journey

On Throwback Thursdays, I’d like to share a bit of my faith journey with you. When I was a child, my family did not regularly attend worship services.

Oh, we went to Easter Sunrise Services and sometimes to Christmas Eve services, but that was about it.

Fortunately, I had grandmothers who prayed.

They were the first who influenced my future relationship with God.

What about you? Who were the people who first influenced you? Were you a child or an adult? I’d love to hear about your faith journey.