Play it Again, Sam!

Maybe my title doesn’t make much sense to our readers, but it does to me –Sam is our organist!  I can’t close out my discussion of the cross without one more hymn I love that extolls it — Lift High the Cross.  Sam can play it again any time he wants!  It was written in 1887 by George Kitchin, who was the Church of England Dean of Winchester at the time.  It was intended to be used as a festival hymn and was first at Winchester Cathedral.  Some have suggested that the inspiration for the hymn comes from the conversion story of Constantine the Great, after he saw a cross with the words “in hoc signo vinces” (in this sign thou shalt conquer) in a vision.  It was first published in the U.S. in 1974, and shortly after that was added to the Lutheran Book of Worship (ELCA hymnal) and later to Lutheran Worship (Missouri-Synod hymnal).  It’s often used during Lent to evoke the message of the sacrificial love of Christ.

For more about Lent see:

Lenten Discipline

Final Questions For Lent

A Lenten Quote

 

Wash One Another’s Feet??

 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
 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.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17
Since today is Maundy Thursday, it seemed like the right time to post about washing one another’s feet. Have you ever, literally, washed someone else’s feet?  Well, if you’re a parent you probably have. I did.   Also, when my mother was elderly, I would go to her house once a week to help her shower, and yes, I would wash her feet.  Washing feet is a humbling job, and one we’re not usually willing to do unless we love someone who cannot take care of that chore themselves.  In Bible times, feet got really dirty (walking on dusty roads in sandals) and foot washing was a job for servants.  Any way you look at it, washing feet is nobody’s favorite task.  It can be messy and unpleasant, something to avoid if possible.
But guess what?  Jesus not only washed the feet of our disciples, he washed our feet!the   Are you asking how?  Well, here’s what happened….
“… being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 4:8
In other words, Jesus chose to do what we could not do for ourselves — He made us clean, or righteous, in the eyes of God.  He couldn’t do this job without getting dirty.  He had to become human.  He had to live with all the aches and pains and sorrows that go with human life.  Then he had to die — and a peaceful death surrounded by friends, either.  He was beaten, tortured, deserted and held up to ridicule.  He died the death of a common criminal.  There’s only one reason why God would do that.  Can you guess?  He loved us!  He loved us that much.  More than we love our children or parents or spouse, when we willingly wash their feet!  Washing our feet cost Him so much more.
If He did this for us, how can we refuse to follow His example and sacrifice for others?  Many times, it just means giving our time, risking some rejection or loss of dignity.  Is this so important when people are dying without knowing Christ?  Shouldn’t we love others enough to wash their feet?

Blessings in Disguise

In one of her posts, Beth Ann said our blessings aren’t always the “good” things in life.  I found a quote that addresses this very topic.  The greatest blessing of all looked like a horrendous defeat–  something we should keep in mind when we undergo trials.  Gods’ ways are not our ways and we never know what He has planned in the long run.

God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters. Any doubters need to do nothing more than ascend the hill of Calvary.

Max Lucado

 

Have you received any blessings in disguise?  We’d like to hear about them.

 

In the Direction of the Cross

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  Luke 9:51

Right now we Lutherans are in the midst of Lent, a time when we remember Christ’s journey to the cross.  It’s apparent that Jesus knew exactly where his trip to Jerusalem would take him, because in the same chapter he tells his disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  Luke 9:22

Yet, He was determined.  Why?  He knew it was His Father’s will, and He knew His sacrifice was necessary to save us from our sins, once and for all.  The suffering, the rejection, the pain was insignificant in light of the benefit to the world.  It’s embarrassing to think of how I often I am annoyed at the prospect of sacrificing for somebody else, even when all I am sacrificing is my own convenience or time!  This is not Christ-like, and not what is expected of us as true followers:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23

Lent is a time to ponder the way of the cross.  The way Christ took and the way we’re called to walk as well.

In the Direction of the Cross #2

I’ve always liked this hymn, often used on Palm Sunday, which encourages all Christians to follow Christ’s way, in the direction of the cross.

 

Celebrating Christmas Correctly

See the source imageI originally planned to simply post this quote, but I found it so challenging personally that I decided to blog about it.  I have to admit that Christmas is often a time when I want to impress others, at least a little.  There are those family members and friends I don’t see or hear from too often during the year so ….when we get together I’d like them to see me at my best.  I take care with how I look and what I wear, and even what I tell them about how my life is going.

Then there are the gifts …I prefer to be the giver, rather than humbly receiving.  I enjoy giving gifts and feeling generous.  Isn’t there some pride in this?  I don’t like others to see that I need them or what they have to offer.

What about food?  Instead of a simple meal together, Christmas has to be a feast … in fact, a series of feasts and parties and excess.  Through it all, I’m hoping that my culinary contributions will measure up and be appreciated as “the best.”

I can give myself a pass on decorating, probably because I simply don’t have that talent or inclination.  However, for many of us, it’s worthwhile to consider:  am I decorating to welcome the King?  Or to impress my visitors with ‘house beautiful’?

Jesus came on Christmas as a helpless infant.  He was born in a dirty stable to poor parents.  He left honor and glory behind to become one of us, one of the least of us… and why?  Simply out of love.  The least we can do is love others and receive His sacrifice in humility and grateful worship. I see clearly how things should be, but understanding it is much easier than living it.  Authors and readers have you found ways to celebrate Christmas correctly?  I’d like to hear some suggestions.