Worship Order for
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
November 7, 2004
"Examine yourselves, and only then
eat of the bread
and drink of the cup." (1
A Song to Call
"Thou true Vine, that
(move to the feetwashing circles, taking a hymnal with you)
"So if I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John
Washing one anotherís feet (hymns sung as
"Bear with one another and, if
anyone has a complaint
against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord
has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Colossians
"Lord, bless the
"The cup of blessing that we
bless, is it not a sharing
in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it
not a sharing in the body of Christ?" (1
"Here, O my Lord, I see
"This bread which we break
is the communion of the body of Christ."
"This cup of the New Testament
is the communion of the blood of Christ."
"You shall go out with
#'s are from Hymnal:
A Worship Book
Worship leaders - see basic
Lord, our God,
utterly to be
you give life to us all,
you help those who come to you,
you give hope to those who cry to you.
Forgive our sins, secret and open,
and rid us of every
habit of thought
that stands against
Set our hearts at peace,
so we may live our
lives before you
confidently and without fear,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN
Hymnal #699. Based on a prayer from
The Liturgy of St. Basil of Caesarea, 4th c.,
adapted from Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship,
ed. Caryl Micklem, copyright © 1956 1967 SCM Press, Ltd.
immediately before this story in the Gospel of Luke says this:
"Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children"
(Luke 7:35). Itís almost on cue that a
"woman of the city" arrives on the scene, a child
of God who vindicates, who proves Godís wisdom to be right. We can
allow our imaginations to run wild as to exactly what it means for
her to be a "woman of the city, who was a sinner,"
as did the Pharisee. However, thatís not really the point.
Forgiveness is what lies at the heart of this story. Her sins, which
were many (thatís all it says - no more, no less), have been
forgiven. Because she has been shown great love, she shows great
love. She washes the feet Jesus with her tears.
Our practice of
washing each otherís feet is based upon the 13th
chapter of the Gospel of John, where it says that Jesus tied a towel
around his waist and washed and dried the feet of all his disciples,
instructing them (and us, we believe) to do the same. That chapter
makes no mention of any of them washing his feet in return. Even
Peter, who wasnít too thrilled over having his feet washed, it
says, made no effort to reciprocate.
In the gospels,
the only ones who wash Jesus feet are women. Here in Luke it was a
nameless "woman of the city." In John, Mary (sister of
Martha and Lazarus - not to be confused with this other woman, or
Mary of Magdala, or Mary the mother of Jesus) also washed Jesusí
feet, much to the chagrin of Judas Iscariot who thought the money
she spent on the costly anointing oil she used could have been
better spent (12:1-8, 11:2). What Mary did was
probably in response to the great love which Jesus showed in raising
her brother from the grave (11:32-45).
We are here,
sisters and brothers, because of this great love. Sinners that we
have been, we are also Godís children who prove that the love of
Christ upon the cross is true wisdom. Forgiven, we forgive. Loved,
we love. We put into our hands this forgiveness and love. Our desire
to serve, to reach out and help others, comes out of this. Itís
not that weíre perfect people, superior examples of faithfulness.
No, itís only because we ourselves have been forgiven and loved.
Our hearts yearn to pass it on.
sins are forgiven," Jesus told that woman. Thatís his
message to each of you gathered here just now. "Your faith
has saved you, shalom, go in peace." ... Now, put
that into your hands.
We know this
story. It can be heard in many ways. We can focus upon the
"prodigal son," or look up to the "waiting
father." We can even view it through the eyes of the
"older brother." At its heart is a love which forgives and
welcomes home those who have been lost, whether they have wandered
to some far country of wasteful living, or stayed behind and have
forgotten why - lost now in bitterness.
I can still see
the scene as portrayed in a morning devotional time at camp. We were
gathered on a hill, with a path leading off in the distance through
a field. Retelling this story, one young person played the younger
son, while another narrated. "I have sinned ... I will go home,
even though I do not deserve a place there. Perhaps as a slave,
though." And he turned and started the slow walk down the hill.
However, off in the distance was another figure - running, arms
outstretched. The son had only completed a dozen steps by the time
this other person, the father, reached him and hugged him tightly.
Such is Godís
love for us. Do we deserve a place around this table? Thatís not
really the question, is it? God has been waiting, watching, running,
embracing. "Quickly, bring out a robe, a ring, sandals. Put
them on. Prepare a feast - a fatted calf - and let us eat and
celebrate! For this son, this daughter of mine was dead and is alive
again; he/she was lost and is found!" (Luke
15:22-24). Can we share together this meal with this kind of
love in mind? Around your table are Godís children, in certain
ways prodigals all. But we are turning toward home, and our waiting
father is clothing us and feeding us and binding us together in
Even if you have
never left for some distant horizon, some itch that canít really
be scratched, some wasted endeavor; even if you have remained
faithful, let bitterness go. The feast is also for you. Embrace
those whom your heavenly father embraces, and thus experience what
love is really all about.
The meal awaits.
Letís bless it with song.
All the gospel
accounts of this upper room scene have that jarring reminder of
betrayal. This is holy time, but not all is holy. If only we could
take a pair of scissors and cut out Judas Iscariot, we are tempted
to think. But without him we become a holy huddle, ignoring our own
betrayals. God does not allow us to live in a dream world, for
visions of grandeur blind us to the reality of what we have been
called to be and do in this broken world. Only those who know their
own brokenness and sin can share the good news of Godís healing
We come down off
our righteous pedestals - Judas forces us to do this - and sit at
Christís table just as we are. No better are we than the other
characters throughout time who have come to this place. Here sits a
bunch of former fishermen, a tax collector, a few zealots.
"Disciples," he calls us. Throughout history, believers
have come. "Saints," we have called them. Their true name
In the order
Matthew, Mark, and Paul (though not Luke) remember, our Lord takes
bread and breaks it, and in that tearing we hear our own fraying of
the fabric of what God has sewn together as his world. But this
breaking is intentional on Godís part, for through it he is
healing his children. And we envision Jesus broken upon a cross.
"This is my body," he says. Eat.
Then he takes
the fruit of the vine and pours it into a cup, and in the dripping
of that liquid we hear the prophetís cry, "Let justice
roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream"
(Amos 5:24). God is making things right. Upon
the cross we see his wounds, and the blood pouring freely - in
reality a healing river flowing by the throne of God. "This
is my blood," he says, a new beginning, a "new
"Here, O my
Lord, I see thee face to face. Here would I touch and handle things
unseen, here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace, and all my
weariness upon thee lean." Letís this communion song, #465 in
All who are in love
and fellowship with your brothers and sisters, who do truly and
earnestly repent of your sins, who humbly put your trust in Christ
and desire his help that you may walk in newness of life, draw near
to God and receive this holy communion, through Jesus Christ our
Lord... Please pray with me.
ever near yet never under our control, faithful and true beyond
our own often meager efforts to live as you would have us live,
Creator of all that is - including those who are gathered around
these tables just now, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus
to show the way and to be the way. Through him, you have washed
us with your forgiveness such that our tears of joy flow freely.
You have opened your arms like a waiting father and run to us
while we were yet sinners, and welcomed us home - clothing and
feeding us with your goodness and mercy. Upon the cross Jesus
was broken, and his blood shed for us - a glory we cannot begin
to fully fathom.
bread of remembrance to our eating. Bless this cup of new
beginnings to our drinking, as we anticipate the day when we
will sit as friends with our Lord and Savior at his heavenly
banquet table, free at last. This we pray in Jesusí name. AMEN