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Washer of feet


Jesus said, If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” {John 13:8}

Love one another. Wash each other’s feet. Simple instructions. We still don’t have it right. Not completely. It was on a Thursday evening, a day we now call Maundy Thursday. It just happens I’m writing this chapter on Maundy Thursday, 2019. It was on the particular Thursday evening that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as we now call it and the sacrament of foot washing.
When they were gathered, Jesus removed his robe and donned what we might call an apron. He then assumed the position with a basin filled with water and began to wash his disciples feet. He moved purposefully from one to the other. Washing the feet and drying them with his apron.
The feet that Jesus washed that Thursday on his way to the cross were not nearly so dainty and manicured as the ones we present in worship these days.
When he got to Peter, Peter protested mightily. But Jesus prevailed, instructing that if Peter didn’t submit to what seemed to him an unjust act of humility, he would have no part with Jesus. Peter got it, being the quick study that he was. Then by all means, he replied. Wash not only my feet but my head and my hands also.
Jesus did wash the feet of those who’d served with him for three years- those who’d left their families, their ideals, their life’s work – to become fishers of men. The disciples who’d walked with him from town to town proclaiming a gospel they were growing into day by day…a message they would be mandated to proclaim until the end of their days.

A little water to the soup

Anyone who has had to entertain unexpected guests knows what this feels like. Ever had to add water and seasoning to stretch a soup or stew? Ever had to add much bread to a meatloaf or burgers to make provision for six stretch to feed a hungry twelve? Ever been challenged by the hungry stare of your children’s visitors and the excited assuredness of your children? Want to stay for lunch? My mother will feed you. Is it okay?
This is that on steroids multiplied by Jesus’ determination to teach the disciples at every opportunity. Like us they easily lost lessons along the way. By the time of the second feeding, recorded in Matthew and Mark, they’d forgotten the first feeding and were just as perturbed as in the beginning.
When they told Jesus what they’d found, he instructed them to prepare the people to share a meal together. Even at this they had no idea how the little they had could possibly be stretched beyond anything their minds could imagine.
And the peculiarity in John is that he put the “found” food in the hands of the little boy. Apparently his mother had sent him off well prepared to follow Jesus all day long. She’d given enough food for himself and to share with someone else. He surely couldn’t have consumed seven loaves of bread and five fish by himself. Somehow the Spirit of God gave her a push that day to make sure she’d pack exactly what Jesus would need to feed every one of the five thousand who found themselves unable to tear themselves away from the powerful words Jesus shared with them.
So the disciples instructed them to prepare to eat. I’m sure they were equally curious as to how, great teacher that he was, Jesus was going to feed so many people. {An excerpt from Jesus in the Key of St. John. PreOrder now on Books and other things page. Publication date April 20.}

An Exquisite Air of Celebration

We used to laugh at the little old ladies in the neighborhood who went to everybody’s funerals. Our childish perspectives couldn’t fathom them knowing those folks…we figured they didn’t have anything else to do so they went to funerals. And then there was the free food that was always good. This character…Funeral Mary…has been notarized even on television shows such as “Good Times,” with Wanda, with the on-the-spot tears and perfect funeral dress, filling the bill.

So now that I’m one of those women…notice the change of description…I know why “we” go to funerals. And especially now that we can travel digitally. No need for hats, funeral dresses, etc. In jeans or jammies we can share in the reading of the word; we can sing along with the great hymns of the church, we can remember along with the stories as they’re told. And. The air of celebration is exquisite. It is at this time that we are reminded of the ongoing, unmatchable grace of God. Collectively. The celebration, or rather the reason for the celebration is not strange. To any of us. None of us is making it without the grace of God, whether we acknowledge it or not. Whether we acknowledge him or not. Whether we thank him or not. It’s not strange. There’s nothing within us that can propel us onward, maintain our lifeline or authenticate the journey except the gracious hand of God. It is this that we have in common. It is this that we celebrate when we gather. It is this that we celebrate when we mark the moment of a well-lived life. Of a life no longer lived on this side of glory. Of a life now standing in reclaimed awe of the glory of the God who has graced it even before the earth journey began.

Jesus in the Key of St. John

Everybody wants to know Jesus. Jesus in the Key of St. John, is targeted to be a tool for that express purpose. To know him. To know him more intimately. To know him more better, as some might say. John distinguished his own relationship by calling himself the disciple who Jesus loved. How tremendous …how audacious! How wonderful of him! He expressed his love in space and place, always indicating himself as the disciple with his head on Jesus’ breast.
I love this John principally because of his love for Jesus and his desire for everyone to experience that love. It is evidenced in this gospel as well as the smaller books later in the New Testament and even in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that was given to him.

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Lent: Day Eighteen

For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed
Isaiah 54:10

Kindness is the act of putting another’s need before your own, but also doing the least or most thing that will make a huge difference in someone’s life. Random acts of kindness. People drive through a fast food establishment only to find when they arrive at the pay window that someone has already paid for theirs. Likewise at the toll booth or the coffee kiosk at the mall. How good does it make you feel that someone took the time and effort to consider something that might make you feel good? Feel cared for. Feel loved.
No one is required to make extra effort on your behalf, especially those who have no relationship with us. They reach out because they can. They reach out because they are in no way diminished by the giving. They reach out because it makes them feel good. They reach out to plant a seed that promises to change the atmosphere in a sometimes unfriendly world. They reach out…and you are touched. You are changed. Your heart is warmed as the object of their generosity. And your first thought is to find someone else to treat likewise. It’s a chain reaction that goes on as long as it goes on. No one can resist the impulse to do the same for the next person. Or for some person they encounter along the way.
Are we not the same when we are touched by the kindheartedness of God? Don’t we want to share the feels with the next person we meet? Or maybe with someone we already know? Don’t we want to pass it along? With the hope that the chain is never broken. Random acts of kindness provoke more random acts of kindness. Intention acts of kindness with people we know have the same result.
Be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32

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Lent: Day Seventeen


Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
Isaiah 49:15-16

Can you even imagine that God is so intent on giving us his attention that he’s inscribed us on the palms of his hands? Keeping us ever before him and making our names ever in his sight. The Message bible says, “I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands. The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.” The Amplified bible says “I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the palms of my hands.” Think about the number of times in a day one glances at the hands. How accessible are the hands? They’re right in front of us most of the time. Glancing at the hands is an easy thing, not that God could forget us any way. Exciting right?

No matter the imagery, the fact is the same. God loves us so much he keeps us, as well as our borders, in close proximity so he can watch over us and protect us. 

All is known and all is forgiven

All is known and all is forgiven.
This pronouncement of grace is attributed to Mother Frances Graves, co founder of Faith Chapel in Philadelphia, along with her late husband, Bishop Eugene Graves.

It’s the way she has assured congregants of their salvation for more than 56 years and the power of this salvo is inescapable.

All is known and all is forgiven.

All is known by God and all is forgiven.

All is known by God and yet…

All is forgiven.

By. God. 

I don’t know about your first all, but mine is pretty awful and I find no comfort in anyone knowing it.

Let alone the wonderful God of a universe our minds can’t even comprehend

The same wonderful God who knew me and had intimate relationship with me before

The same wonderful God who formed me in my mother’s womb

The same wonderful God who, with intention, knit me together, including in the pattern of my fabric every ALL I would need to become the magnificent person he intended me to be

I’m not that cool with that God knowing my ALL

Except for the mind blowing fact that in spite of the fact that he knows me ALL

He, with foreknowledge of my ALL, put a plan into place to permit my continued participation in his family because

With full knowledge of my ALL, he is fully committed to forgetting and forgiving, even before the fact of my guilt, with the fullness of his grace

ALL is known and ALL is forgiven.

Thank you, Mother Graves.

Thank you, God.