Midweek Reflections

The meaning of Maundy

Read: John 13:1-15

During Holy Week each year many people of the Christian Faith observe Maundy Thursday in different ways. On that Thursday before Good Friday some have services, some have meals, and others find private ways to remember the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples before he was betrayed and led away to be crucified. I would encourage you to find a way to remember that tomorrow.

The word Maundy is actually from the Latin word “Mandatum” which means “Washing of Feet.” Many people think it has to do with the bread and the cup that Jesus shared with the disciples as a way to remember his broken body and shed blood, but it actually signifies another event that happened that evening of the Last Supper.

In John 13:3-5 it says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

Some churches still practice the washing of feet in different ways. Some literally wash each others feet, some find other ways to serve others, and some use the example of Jesus to teach about our need to serve other believers. However we observe it we should not forget about this very important part of the Last Supper.

The Mennonite Confession of Faith even has a specific article dedicated to this teaching and example of Jesus. This is a part of what article 13 entitled “Foot Washing” says….

“We believe that Jesus Christ calls us to serve one another in love as he did. Rather than seeking to lord it over others, we are called to follow the example of our Lord, who chose the role of a servant by washing his disciples’ feet.

Just before his death, Jesus stooped to wash the disciples’ feet and told them, “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

In this act, Jesus showed humility and servanthood, even laying down his life for those he loved. In washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus acted out a parable of his life unto death for them, and of the way his disciples are called to live in the world.

Believers who wash each other’s feet show that they share in the body of Christ. They thus acknowledge their frequent need of cleansing, renew their willingness to let go of pride and worldly power, and offer their lives in humble service and sacrificial love…..”

May those words help us to focus on Jesus’ call to servanthood this week. We no longer need to wash each others feet when we enter each others homes as they did in Galilee, but we definitely need to serve each other in the spirit that Jesus has shown us. Let’s do that this week and beyond!

Make it personal: Who can you serve this week? How can you serve this week? Jesus took the time, went out of his way, and reached out to those in great need. We are called as his followers to do the same.

Have a great Easter everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Cross

Read: Matthew 27:27-61

As we enter into what is called “Holy Week” next week it would be beneficial for us to reflect on what the cross of Christ means for us. It is much more than a symbol that hangs in the front of churches or around peoples necks. It is the reason that we are saved from the sins of this world. From our sins.

This week the reading from Matthew has more verses than normal but I would encourage you to read them. In all of history this passage is the most incredible account of God’s ultimate love for each of us. He gave his only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. As you remember that in this week ahead here are some other quotes by well known believers about the cross.

“This only we may be assured of, that if tomorrow brings a cross, He who sends it can and will send grace to bear it.”
– J.C. Ryle

“Jesus said on the cross “It is finished.” (Luke 19:30)
What that means is that salvation is “Something outside of
myself. Something with which I had nothing to do. I add nothing to it. I take nothing away. I just receive it as a gift from my Lord. And the rest of my life is spent, not in working for my salvation, but the rest of my life is spent in
praise and gratitude and love for what Jesus has done for me.”
– W.A. Criswell

“There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today.”
— Handley C. G. Moule

Thank You Jesus for what you have done for me! For us! For all those who call on you as their Lord and Savior and believe in you. This gift of love and sacrifice is incredible, let’s celebrate that and be thankful for it!

Make it personal: Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion this next week and allow the accounts of the various Gospel writers to help you reflect on what Jesus has done for you. Then pray and give him thanks!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Fiery Sermon

Read: Acts 2:42-47

The fellowship among the early Christian believers is always a great reminder for us. In this passage it says that they broke bread together, prayed together, and shared so many things in common. They were there for each other! Too often we forget that church is about more than just a place to gather once or twice a week. The church is a group of people who “enjoy the favor of all the people” as verse 47 proclaims.

It reminds me of the sermon illustration entitled “The Fiery Sermon.” It goes like this….

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending Services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The preacher found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his preacher’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited…

The preacher made himself at home, but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.

Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.

Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the preacher reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday…”

Two great reminders for us this week. 1. We should never underestimate the presence of God’s people in our lives and the difference they make. 2. Sometimes we don’t have to say much to get our point across. Object lessons sometime speak the loudest.

Make it personal: Say a prayer of thanksgiving this week for the people that God has placed in your life. Thank him for his church and the support, encouragement, and hope that we can continuously remind each other of.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Warning Signs

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Tom Tripp once shared a chilling story out of the 1991 winter edition of the University of Pacific Review about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia.

There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were “playing around” with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an authorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would “freewheel” when they took the power off it.

Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactors down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.

One by one the computers would come up and say, “Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!” And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world at that time.

1 Corinthians 10 proclaim warnings from Israel’s history. Times of ignoring God’s direction led them astray and does the same to us today. The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others.

When temptation comes at us there are usually warning signs that we can choose to ignore or pay attention to. Our decision to ignore the alarm systems and warnings often lead to unwanted circumstances in our lives.

Verse 13 gives us hope, it says, “God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Make it personal: Don’t ignore the instructions of Scripture and don’t ignore the warning signs in life. God will help us to be vigilant and aware of when Satan is leading us down a wrong and dangerous path if we turn to the Lord for our help.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

New Beginnings

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Most people know that sports is one of my hobbies, and baseball is at the top of the list when it comes to sports that I enjoy following. Some years ago I even got involved with a fantasy baseball league that allows you to draft players, follow them through the year, and enjoy friendly competition among friends and family.

So, Spring is always an exciting time. Not only is the weather changing for the better, but my baseball teams and my fantasy baseball teams have a new opportunity to start fresh. In fact, that is what Spring Training is all about. A fresh start for teams to put last season behind them and focus on the new opportunities that lie ahead.

Last season the Boston Red Sox did exactly that. The season before they had finished last place in their division, but this past season they corrected all of that and won the World Series. From the bottom to the top. All of those teams who finished in last place last year are beginning this new season with that in mind.

In these months leading up to Easter we are in a time called Lent. In some sense Lent is like Spring Training for the baseball teams. During this time we are encouraged to focus on our spiritual lives and our relationship with Christ. By doing that we learn to grow, renew, and restore things that lead us to new beginnings in Jesus’ name.

In 2 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) That is a wonderful truth that we need to live with each and every week. Your past, good or bad, does not have to define your future. Jesus Christ can take all of our experiences and make them new! His grace and forgiveness is always awaiting us.

There is nothing more refreshing than knowing that you have a new beginning ahead of you. It gives you hope, it lifts your spirits, and it helps you to envision a positive outlook for the days ahead. And to be honest, we all need that. In fact God created the world around that premise.

Robert Morgan says, “The first person to invent the wheel only discovered what God had already designed, for the Lord created things in circles. The stars and planets are round, they move in orbital circuits, and life, as a result, moves in cycles. Every one hundred years, we have a new century; every 365 days, we have a new year; every 24 hours we have a new day; every 60 minutes we have a new hour. God created the potential for new beginnings into the very design of our universe.”

He goes on to mention that almost every hero in the Bible needed those new beginnings as well. We are in good company. I hope this season of Lent can lead you to a closer relationship with Jesus and his promise that everything can be made new through him. Easter is coming and that is the everlasting proof when it comes to new beginnings.

Make it personal:  Enjoy your Spring, enjoy the baseball season, and may your team do well this season! More importantly, may you embrace the new beginning that has God in store for you personally!

Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Ashes to Dust

Read: Romans 5:12-19

Have you seen anyone today with a cross symbol on their forehead? Today is Ash Wednesday which symbolizes the beginning of the Lenten season. A time for Christians to practice renewal and reflection upon the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is a time for Christians to think seriously about our mortality, morality, and relationship with the creator of the universe. Various faith traditions use the season of Lent in different ways. Some give up things for the days leading up to Easter, others will take on new spiritual disciplines that help them focus and grow their faith.

If you have seen someone with a cross on their forehead today it most likely is a cross made from ashes. This is how author Kalas Ellsworth describes it… “Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes)on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.”

This made me think of the well known phrase “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Most people think that phrase is from the Bible when actually it comes from the book of common prayer and is often used as a eulogy at funerals. While it is not specifically found in scripture there are several passages that are similar to it. Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Job 30:19.

It testifies to the truth that we were created from the dust of the earth and one day will return to it. Our time on earth in our current bodies is limited. But this is where the hope of Christ comes in. Our soul is eternal and will live eternally because of the work of Jesus Christ. Romans 5 talks about Adam bringing sin into the world but Jesus coming to redeem us from that sin. (Old Adam, New Adam)

What a truth to celebrate in these days leading up to Easter! Our mortal bodies, plagued by sin, are replaced by grace, forgiveness, and eternity through our Savior Jesus Christ. That my friends is good news that can carry you through any week!

Make it personal: During Lent I encourage you to find a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus. It might be giving something up, it might mean starting something new, it might be something else. But find a way to grow during this time.

Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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