Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
October 2, 2011
yourselves, and only then eat of the bread
and drink of the cup.” (1
A Song to Call us "Isaiah 55"
the voice of Jesus say" 493
(move to the feetwashing circles,
taking a hymnal with you)
if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another's feet.”
Washing one another’s feet
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.”
Prayer in Song
"Lord, bless 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 Corinthians 10:16)
"Sun of my soul" 654
"Here, O my Lord, I see
(congregation sings refrain)
"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 joy" 427
#'s are from Hymnal:
A Worship Book
Lord, our God,
great, eternal, wonderful
utterly to be trusted:
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 the gospel.
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.
before washing feet
immediately before this story in the Gospel of Luke says this: “Nevertheless,
wisdom is vindicated by all her children”
(Luke 7:35). It’s almost
on cue that a “woman of the city” arrives on the scene, a
child of God who vindicates, who proves God’s 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, that’s not
really the point. Forgiveness is what lies at the heart of this
story. Her sins, which were many (that’s 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 of Jesus with her
Our practice of
washing each other’s 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 wasn’t 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 of
the city, or with Mary of Magdala, or with Mary the mother of
Jesus) also washed Jesus’ 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
We are here,
sisters and brothers, because of this great love. Sinners that
we have been, we are also God’s 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. It’s not that we’re perfect people, superior examples of
faithfulness. No, it’s only because we ourselves have been
forgiven and loved. Our hearts yearn to pass it on.
“Your sins are
forgiven,” Jesus told that woman. That’s 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.
before agape meal
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
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 God’s love
for us. Do we deserve a place around this table? That’s 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 God’s 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 love.
Even if you have
never left for some distant horizon, some itch that can’t 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.
Let’s 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 brokeness and sin can share the good
news of God’s healing forgiveness.
We come down off
our righteous pedestals - Judas forces us to do this - and sit
at Christ’s 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 is
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 God’s 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 prophet’s 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 covenant.” Drink.
“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.” Let’s sing this communion song, #465
in your hymnal.
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.
Lord God, 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
Bless this 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 Jesus’ name. AMEN
(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)