This beautiful rendition of “Jesus, Remember Me” is a powerful reminder of our repentant prayer. I invite you to sing along, and substitute your name for the word, “me”.
JESUS, REMEMBER ME
Good evening. Although we are unable to gather geographically on this Maundy Thursday, we can certainly join our hearts in worship and prayer. (L: Leader) (F: Family)
As always, we begin our wordship in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A NEW COMMANDMENT: LOVE ONE ANOTHER
L: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
F: “By this all [people] will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
L: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
F: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)
L: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
Let us join our hearts in prayer:
Holy God, source of love, on the night of His betrayal, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: to love one another as He had loved them. By Your Holy Spirit continually write this commandment on our hearts and in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Epistle: First Corinthians, the eleventh chapter:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. Thus far the reading.
The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the thirteenth chapter:
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Homily: Jesus Knew!
Think about the first verse of our Gospel lesson for this evening. John tells us that, “before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Jesus knew! He knew that he was about to be nailed to a cross and give his life in love and atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus knew, that through his death and resurrection, God was about to establish a new covenant with his creation.
That had to be a heavy burden, to know that he was about to suffer the most agonizing death that humankind has devised to execute a healthy human being.
To know that being nailed to a cross was in your immediate future, would be enough to make most us do whatever we could to escape from that experience. But not Jesus! He chose to stay, and had the courage to give his life, to complete his Father’s will to redeem us from our sins.
This opening verse from our Gospel lesson sets the stage for all that is to play out in the hours which will quickly unfold in Jesus’ life. Jesus knew, and although troubled by that which lay ahead of him, chose not to flee, but to give his life out of love for his Father’s will, and out of love for his disciples, for you and me. And in case we may have missed this point that John was trying to make, he adds “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them, and us, to the end.”
Jesus knew! He was about to give his life for the world, and yet, what does he do? Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, gets up from the table in the midst of dinner, takes off his outer robe, ties a towel around his waist, pours water into a basin, and begins to wash his disciples’ feet! That was a gesture of pure, absolute humility. According to the custom of that day, when guests came to dinner, a servant, (THE LOWEST SERVANT!) was to wash the dust of their travel off their feet, that gathered because of their open sandals.
There was no servant that day, just Jesus and his twelve disciples, who, throughout the past three years, seemed never to catch on to the true scope of His ministry. He must have noticed that none of them chose to wash their own feet, nor to humble themselves to wash the feet of the others. And so, Jesus, who was about to give his life for their redemption, assumes the role of servant, and does what they were unwilling to do. He humbles himself, and washes their feet. It is a sign, a symbolic gesture of what was to come, when Jesus would, in absolute humility, give his life for their redemption, AND FOR OURS!
Of course, Peter had to be the one to object, saying to Jesus, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter didn’t know what this gesture was all about. He knew that he was one of Jesus’ disciples, which is a term that means a student of a master or Rabbi. The master doesn’t wash the student’s feet! It should be the other way around! “You will never wash my feet!” he said to Jesus.
But Jesus counter’s Peter’s objection, telling him that he really doesn’t know what this act of love means. He says to Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” And it is obvious by Peter’s response, that he really didn’t know what Jesus was doing. For Peter, focused on the washing of his body, not on the humility of Jesus, who loved God above all else, and showed his true love to those he had come to know. What He did that night, was to give us an example to emulate as his disciples, to be humble and give of ourselves to express our love of God and uplift the lives of others.
Jesus knew! He knew who was to betray him, one of his own disciples. John describes it in these words. “Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’” In light of all that Jesus knew, this had to be the most difficult. To have just washed the feet of Judas, to have demonstrated that to be a disciple of his, means we need to humble ourselves as servants of God. Jesus knew that Judas thought he knew more than his master.
Many commentators point out that they believe, the reason Judas betrayed Jesus was to force his hand, to become the kind of Messiah that Israel had hoped for – a Messiah that would lead the people of Israel as a military hero like King David. They all failed to see Jesus as the humble servant Isaiah had prophesied, would, through his life, usher in a new covenant, a new relationship with God.
Jesus knew, and yet he did not stop Judas from carrying out his evil plot. Here again, we encounter a love that goes beyond any love that you and I have ever seen.
At this point, I need to jump to our epistle lesson for this evening, since John’s Gospel does not record Jesus instituting the sacrament of Holy Communion, even though it is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Here again, Jesus knew what lay ahead of him. He not only knew, he also understood.
According to these four texts that record the night of our Lord’s Last Supper with his disciples, acting as the host, Jesus took a loaf of bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat, this is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then, after the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine, gave thanks and said, “drink of it, all of you, for this is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Jesus knew! He knew that what was to be accomplished through the betrayal of Judas, and his own impending death on the cross, was according to God’s will. He knew that through his life-giving death on the cross, he would become the ultimate Paschal lamb, who gave his life to redeem us from sin and death, and establish a new relationship, a new covenant between God, and us, which would last forever! And so, Jesus instituted a new covenant meal, which became a means of grace, for all who are baptized into his death and resurrection.
Jesus knew! He knew that this new covenant God was about to make with the world, through his death and resurrection, required a new direction. The Ten Commandments, which formed the terms of the old covenant, did not adequately express the terms of the new covenant which was about to unfold.
And so, in the concluding verses of our text, John tells us that Jesus told his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In fact, this is how this holy day got its name. Maundy comes from a Latin word that means mandate. Thus, Maundy Thursday literally means the day of the commandment, the day in which God set the terms of a new covenant relationship with his people, based on loving one another as Jesus the, Christ, has loved us.
Jesus knew he was about to give his life on a cross, knew what it meant to humble himself in service, to even wash the feet of his disciples, knew that one of his own would betray him. What a model of love he gives us to emulate!
This new covenant would no longer require the death of the Paschal lamb, which freed Israel from bondage in slavery in Egypt. (pause)
Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for us to free us from our bondage to sin and death, is the ultimate gift of love.
And Jesus knew that we, like Judas who betrayed him, or Peter who denied him, or the rest of the disciples who deserted him, would continue to sin, and fail to love as he has loved us. He instituted a sacramental meal, a means of grace, where his loving forgiveness would be forever available to those who embrace him in faith. So let us, those who truly do not know the extent of our sin, in faith, hope and love use every opportunity to partake of the body and blood of Jesus the Christ, who knowingly gave himself for our redemption.
We Pray Together The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you His peace.
I received this helpful article in an email from GodUpdates@crosswalkmail.com.
February 6, 2017 A Simple Way to Pray Every Day
Article by Nick Aufenkamp, Pastor, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Of all the things Martin Luther is known for, among the foremost is his dedication to prayer. He is famous for commenting, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He wasn’t exaggerating, either. Many of his friends and students could attest that he would spend several hours on his knees in fervent, daily prayer — often at seemingly inopportune times in the middle of the day.
At one point, Luther’s barber and longtime friend, Peter Beskendorf, asked if he would teach him how to pray. Luther responded by writing Beskendorf a letter which he called, “A Simple Way to Pray.” Luther’s letter is a gourmet buffet for all Christians who hunger for more rich and satisfying prayerfulness.
While I would encourage anyone to enjoy the full buffet, for now I will simply provide the first course: a simple way to pray by using the Lord’s Prayer.
Prone to Wander in Every Age
But why should we go to Luther for help praying in the twenty-first century in the first place? Most of our modern problems with prayer are born of distraction: email alerts, Facebook notifications, constantly revolving media. How can Luther help us with these sorts of problems?
“The problem of our prayerlessness is not simply with our smartphones or schedules, but with our hearts.”
In fact, Luther directly approaches this very obstacle in his letter. Hear how his words resonate with your own difficulties with prayer:
Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day. . . .
We must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind.
It is strangely encouraging to be reminded that our temptation toward distraction from prayer for the sake of seemingly “more productive” tasks is not unique to the digital age. The problem of our prayerlessness is not simply with our smartphones or schedules. The problem is with our hearts. So, if we really want to grow in our prayer life, we must take aim at something much deeper than surface distractions: our most inward affections and desires.
And this is where the Lord’s Prayer is most helpful.
How to Pray as Jesus Taught Us
First, Luther recommends simply to pray through the prayer once, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 6:9–13). He then says to go back through the prayer and pray each petition individually:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Luther exhorts us to let each petition guide our prayer. So, after praying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” we may continue to pray, “Yes, Father, it is our great desire that your name would be feared and revered for who you are: our God, our Creator, the Holy One who, in unthinkable mercy, gave your only begotten Son to save us from your wrath upon our sin.”
We can then move to the next petition, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and pray, “We know that Jesus is reigning right now with authority over all things, and yet we still experience much brokenness here on earth. Father, bring your kingdom in greater measure today, beginning in my own heart and pouring out to my home, community, city, nation, and to the ends of the earth.”
“Structure and spontaneity in prayer are not at all at odds with one another.”
Eventually, we move through each petition until we’ve reached the “Amen.” We might be inclined to think of the Amen as the simplest, least significant part of the Lord’s Prayer. However, Luther does not dismiss it so quickly. Instead, he exhorts us to make a bold, powerful, and confident “Amen.”
You must always speak the Amen firmly. Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say “yes” to your prayers. . . . Do not leave your prayer without thinking, “Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth.” That is what Amen means.
Three Benefits of Praying the Lord’s Prayer
There are probably dozens of benefits to praying to God as God himself taught us. Here, I will just offer three. Praying the Lord’s Prayer enables us to:
1. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Personally, I tend toward praying inward-focused prayers that center on my confession, my problems, and my requests. Praying the Lord’s Prayer as Luther recommends helps us to seek a greater awareness of Christ, other people, and God’s broader mission in our prayers.
2. Discipline our wandering minds.
Our minds drift so easily in times of prayer. One moment I’m praying, the next I’m thinking about that email I need to reply to. Utilizing the structure of the Lord’s Prayer helps me to recognize when my mind has wandered and helps me remember where to pick up again.
3. Build a fence so our prayers can run wild inside.
As I mentioned earlier, our lack of prayerfulness is chiefly a heart issue. Some people may push back on this method of prayer, saying that it is too structured and therefore restrains the Spirit’s spontaneous leading. In fact, I have found the opposite to be true.
As someone who has always favored unscripted prayers that express heartfelt longings and desires, I have not found structure and spontaneity to be at all at odds with one another. I am amazed to find that, every time I pray through the Lord’s Prayer as Luther has commended, my prayers have been richer, deeper, and more revealing, and have unlocked affections that are otherwise seldom seen.
Learning to Desire God as God Desires
Why would Jesus command us to “pray like this” (Matthew 6:9)? Jesus did not simply provide some words for disciples who had nothing else to say to God. Rather, the Lord’s Prayer is meant to have a total, shaping effect on our hearts, helping us to see and yearn for the very things that God himself desires — most centrally, to see and experience more of God himself in our hearts and lives.
“The Lord’s Prayer is meant to have a total, shaping effect on our hearts.”
Obviously, there’s no silver bullet for achieving the perfect prayer life, but I have found Luther’s method to be an effective weapon in fighting for a richer prayer life. Personally, I’ve experienced a renewed sense of expectancy in prayer, with more excitement and intentionality, and a deeper love for Jesus and appreciation for the cross-won gift of prayer. Inasmuch as it has benefited me, I commend it to you.
With that, I will end where Luther begins: “I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen.”
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
– John 20:21, 26
April 4, 2020: Today, one day before Palm Sunday, I’m “sheltering in place” with Rebecca and Ginger Snap the amazing ten-pound wonder dog. Why am I quoting an Easter passage before Palm Sunday? Because we need it NOW!
I’ve been focused on the Gospel According to St. John. The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. We are behind closed doors for fear of the COVID-19 virus. Locked doors could not stop Jesus then, and they can’t stop Him today.
He comes to us every day when we read and meditate on His Word. He’s always with us via the Holy Spirit, but I think we are most aware of His presence when we actively worship Him. He is physically present through His body and blood in Holy Communion.
We can’t all come together physically for a while, but we absolutely can and must join with each other now in prayer, praise and the reading of His Word, thereby strengthening our faith and faithfulness in praying for others, and supporting the ministry of King of Kings.
There is a whole world of people out who still don’t believe in our Savior. God has called us to pray for them, support missions, and witness in our own homes. He has blessed us to be a blessing to others.
You may have noticed the picture above. Seven years ago, on the morning of Good Friday, I was walking my dog, and came upon this plant by the side of the road. I was deeply touched. I noticed the overall shape of a cross. If you look closely at the center of the cross, you might be reminded of the crown of thorns on our Savior’ head. You might also remember that He bore the unbearable weight of the entire world, including yours and mine.
But take heart! The green could represent new life – His resurrection, of course, but also our own. Titus 3:5-8 tells us “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”
As we continue to “shelter in place”, let us focus on the ETERNAL SHELTER we have in Jesus Christ and His all-encompassing love for us.
Feel free to share this online. Who knows – it might go “viral?”