Love Feast

7:00 pm            Maundy Thursday         April 1, 2010
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren

Is it Foolishness?

Organ Prelude                                                  (a time for quiet reflection)

Beginning with the Word              1 Corinthians 1:18-31

May the Lord bless you this evening with the sense of his presence.  Before we even ask, we know the Holy Spirit is beside us, within us, around us, above us, below us, upholding us, nudging us forward into this strange thing called “Love” - though not as the world understands love, mind you. Instead, it is “Love” that is peculiar in its own way, and we are gathered in its name - that is Jesus. Welcome.
            As this is the first day of the month of April, which has traditionally, I guess, been known as “April Fools,” are when then gathered as “fools” for Christ?  Is it foolishness that draws us here?  Some may say, well, yes, this is a rather foolish thing to do… I mean, it is such a beautiful day and we have chosen to come on this evening and gather together in the name of love, Jesus.
            You know that “love” is a verb, don’t you, not a noun.  Just like faith, though sometimes we take faith to be something that is flat upon a piece of paper, like a creed. But faith is likewise a verb.  It is what we are about . . . it is what God implants within us. Some may call it foolishness, yes!
            Let us begin with a word of foolishness. Let me read to you from Paul’s letter, his first letter to the folks in Corinth . . . The first chapter starting with the 18th verse:

     18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Call to Worship

We do not come to this place because, as Brethren, we are better than anyone else. We do not come to this place because we are somehow holier than others, perfect . . . if truth be told, we are anything but perfect, that’s why we need the message, foolish as it may be, of this hour. That is why we need the cross. That is why we are here.  Is this foolishness? Yes…, but the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of this world…
            A bit of foolishness, something that is a bit like a creed and yet it is not - would you turn to the back of your hymnal, to #714, and join me in this affirmation. Would those of you to my right begin by reading the first line, with those on my left echoing with the second in bold print, continuing in this pattern until we are finished? Let’s look to Jesus

Looking to Jesus                                                                                    714

He was the Son of God.
      He was the Son of Man.
He came down from heaven.
      He was born in a stable.
Kings came to his cradle.
      His first home was a cave.
He was born to be a king.
      He was a child of Mary.
He was the greatest among rulers.
      He was the least among servants.
He was loved and honored.
      He was despised and rejected.
He was gentle and loving.
      He made many enemies.
He counseled perfection.
      He was a friend of sinners.
He was a joyful companion.
      He was a man of sorrows.
He said, "Rejoice."
      He said, "Repent."
"Love God with all your heart."
      "Love your neighbor as yourself."
"Don't be anxious."
      "Count the cost."
"Deny yourself."
      "Ask and receive."
In him was life.
      He died on a cross.
He was a historic person.
      He lives today.
He was Jesus of Nazareth.
      He is Christ the Lord.

Hymnal #714,
adapted from We Gather Together,
Kenneth I. Morse, ed.
copyright © 1979 Brethren Press.

Singing our prayer             "Dear Lord and Father of mankind"              523

(take your hymnal and journey to the feetwashing circles)

The ‘Foolishness’ of Feetwashing

Scripture                                  John  13:1-17

     1Now 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. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then 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. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus 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.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

      12After 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? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Meditation and Prayer

We come to what is perhaps one of the most foolish of the practices of our church. I mean, really, when you think about it . . .washing feet!  You talk to people about this where you work or go to school, this is probably one of the most peculiar things about our faith as you try to explain the why . . . why do you do this?  Sounds kind of foolish doesn’t it.  And yet, even the disciples, even Peter considered it to be a bit of foolishness… Why else, when Jesus got down on his knees to wash Peter’s feet, did Peter say “why are you doing this?”  And yet Jesus did it anyway, and then said “do this.”
            As Brethren, we have not called this a “sacrament.” We call it an “ordinance,” like our other ordinances, simply because an ordinance is what? . . . an order. Not some military order, but a word of Jesus saying, “do this,” and we have done this - and the amazing thing about this bit of foolishness is what it has spawned.  Think about it. Those who get down on their knees and wash one another’s feet, they are just doing some kind of religious ritual. Well, it is a ritual. But it is a ritual which leads beyond itself.  It has sparked things over the years, as we reach beyond this room, as we reach beyond this tub and towel, as we, well, have done things like provide heifers around the world or done things like disaster relief. Feetwashing is a prod to service.  Now, we can become boastful in our history, as we have, and say, “look what we have done.” But that is not what Jesus calls us to do.  If anyone has anything to boast, Paul wrote, boast not about what you do. Instead, boast about what God is doing.
            What comes out of this is what matters. Now, my encouragement is, as foolish as it might seem, when your brother or sister gets down on their knees, look into their eyes and seek to see Christ before you – here is Jesus. And as you wash the feet of someone else, look at them and seek to see Jesus in them. That’s a simple request. Foolish maybe, but simple. Would you pray with me?

O God, we are gathered for a bit of foolishness, but it is your foolishness. So re-clothe us, in our “rightful mind” (as we sang), and help us down on our knees in giving. But also guide us in receiving. Help us to see in our brothers and sisters here what we need to see - you present in us, among us, as well as beyond us.  Seeing beyond “us” is very important. Without your aid, we become just another “holy huddle” instead of getting out on the field and doing in this world what you are calling us to do and to be - your hands, your feet. Bless this time, we pray, in Jesus name. Amen.

Feetwashing                   (hymns sung as needed)

  "Obey my voice" (sing twice)
"Marvelous grace of our loving Lord"
"Have thine own way"
"Beneath the cross of Jesus"
"Lord, I want to be a Christian"

(take your hymnal and journey to the Lord’s table)

The “Foolishness’ of Fellowship

Scripture                            Philippians 4:1-9

     1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. 2I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

     4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.


For many of us those are familiar words - “rejoice in the Lord always,” and “think on these things,” focus on these things. However, these words began with a note of conflict. Did you hear it?  In the church in Philippi, there were two women who did not agree. They were in conflict with one another. The church, you see, when it comes to harmony is not always together.  In fact it is kind of foolish that God would work through this thing we call the “church,” because so often we grow in faith in spite of believers instead of because of them. And yet God foolishly works among such people - like you and like me - working in conflicted situations, working towards peace in the midst of anxiety, working to bring together what is broken apart.
            It is foolish what we heard. Didn’t you think so as you listened to it. “Rejoice in the Lord,” Paul wrote. Not “sometimes,” but “always” … Oh, come on! … And this “peace that passes all understanding.” … Really? Yes, really.
            We’ve gathered around these tables for a bit of foolishness.  I know that in some Brethren churches this is silent time. Perhaps it was so in the church in which you grew up (I see Mel nodding over there). Silence. As much as I have sometimes tried, I can’t get this group to be quiet, you are just a communing bunch. You want to talk, and that’s good. Share around these tables, because I’m sure when Jesus was sharing with his disciples in that upper room, they weren’t sitting there going, “shush, shush … this is holy time.” They were probably gabbing away. Of course, there was more to happen around those tables, just as there is more to happen here tonight. But remember, allow the foolishness of this time together to be God’s foolishness, not your own… God’s foolishness, and we are fools for the sake of Jesus.

Hymn                        (v.1-4) "Bless'd be the tie that binds"                            421


     Eternal God, giver and sustainer of life, we sense your almighty presence in these sacred moments. We offer our thanks and praise for your invitation to each of us to be present around these tables.

     As we share in this fellowship meal, make us mindful of that table almost 2,000 years ago where our Lord and Savior ate with his disciples. We, like them, do not always understand your teachings; and those we do understand, we too often fail to follow.

     Stir our hearts to obedience, an obedience that springs forth from a heart full of devotion for you. Move in our midst, touch our hands, transform our darkness into your light; but most of all, teach us to love you with our hearts, souls, and minds. O Spirit of God, lead us this night.

     In Christ’s name, Amen.

by S. Joan Hershey
from Deacon Manual for Caring Ministries
Copyright ©1998, Association of Brethren Caregivers, p. 238-39

Agape Meal

The “Foolishness’ of a Feast

Hymn                           "Be present at our table, Lord"                               457

Scripture                                 Luke 22:14-23

     14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. 22For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” 23Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.


Again, we hear the note of betrayal, there is no perfect meal. We wonder, is it I.  We foolishly call this a feast . . .  and yet it is only a small piece of bread and a little bit of juice, that’s it, and yet it is so much more. With Christians around the world we remember, we may understand these elements differently in our various traditions.  And, sometimes it looks to outsiders kind of foolish that we don’t agree as Christians on the meaning, but we still break bread and we still drink from the cup.  A foolish feast, yes, but in it we remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, something we could not do for ourselves.  God is at work still, this salvation business, this redemption business, while we were yet sinners, scripture says, “Jesus died for us”  while we were enemies in fact, that’s what it says, while we were enemies, God reached out through his son. A foolish feast, yes, but it is the foolishness of God.

Blessing the Bread and Cup

O God we ask your blessing upon this bread and upon this cup - such simple things really - and we remember our Lord broke the bread with his disciples, and how they shared from the common cup. And he spoke of his body being broken and his blood shed, and they struggled to understand - as we struggle even today, but we know that in this meal we find our meaning and our hope and life itself. We ask your blessing on the breaking of the bread, realizing that in many ways we are broken with Christ, and we find our wholeness through you. O God, we ask your blessing upon what we are about to do.  Through it help us to proclaim, foolishly yes, to proclaim his death until he comes. And we know the rest of the story. This we pray in the name of the one who said “Do this in remembrance of me.” Amen.

Communion   (unison statements of faith spoke before partaking:)

“The bread which we break
is the communion of the body of Christ.”

Take and eat.


“The cup which we bless
is the communion of the blood of Christ.”

Take and drink.

Be Still and Know                        (silence)

Hymn                           "In the cross of Christ I glory"                                566


From the table our Lord went out into the garden, in the stillness of the night, there he prayed.  You know the story. A foolish story or a real one? One we remember. If this cup could pass by me, no, not my will but thy will be done. Then the darkness of that night unfolded. (extinguish a candle) He was betrayed with a kiss. (extinguish a candle) He was arrested. (extinguish a candle) He was brought before the religious authorities (extinguish a candle, and motion for others to extinguish the rest)
            As children we think of the dark and to keep from getting scared, we laugh…  It is Maundy Thursday, tomorrow is Good Friday - the day upon which our Lord was crucified. He died, he was taken down from the cross and put into the tomb, and then we have Holy Saturday… It is Maundy Thursday, brother and sisters, but don’t be afraid - Sunday is coming, Sunday is coming, Sunday is coming. Amen . . . Amen

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord be gracious unto you and give you peace. Go in peace.

All scripture quotations taken from the New Revised Standard Version, copyright ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

announcement in bulletin:

         You are invited to stay and clean up from our meal. Thank you to all who helped prepare this meal, those who shared in leadership during it, and those who cared for children so parents could participate.

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)



©2010 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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