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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Friday, April 15 2022

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

-John 21:15-17

 

Like many of you, I read and watch and listen to countless sources of educational information. I follow several scientists and educators on TikTok. It was one such person who pointed me to a study about relationships. A researcher observed the guests of a bed and breakfast for some years. He observed their behavior and which behaviors seemed to correlate to the longevity of a couple. The highest correlation was couples with a high frequency of accepted “bids” for affection. In other words, when one person in a couple asked for the attention of their partner, and the partner responded by taking notice or affirming them.

 

What does a bid for attention look like? “Oh look at that beautiful bird!” Some partners ignored the bid entirely. Some looked and nodded. Others stopped what they were doing and affirmed, “Yes indeed! What a beautiful bird!” The couples that did this well were far more likely to remain together and have a strong relationship. As believers, we know two things... firstly, strong relationships with our families are one of the ways we model love for the world. Secondly, our most important relationship is with God. Therefore, practicing this skill with our loved ones can help us grow closer to God. And vice versa.

 

How often does God make a bid for our attention? Perhaps in the beauty of a bird or a sunset. Maybe in the outstretched hand of someone homeless or a small child in need of attention. It could be in an environmental problem or social injustice that you can fix with your time, your talents, your willingness to do something, or follow a guideline unimportant to you but vital to someone else, or even your vote. And sometimes, it’s an opportunity simply to be civil or kind when no one else is. The most spectacular bid God has ever made for our love was the sacrifice on the cross.

 

We spend this weekend reflecting on that deep and unconditional love. And we can show our love for God and our family by worshipping God together and telling the story once more. This week, look for “bids” for your love, focus, and attention. It may be a loved one, a stranger, or the Lord. If you return it, you’ll likely find yourself growing in new ways. And I’ll see you on Easter!

Prayer for Today

Lord, thank you for loving me so much. Bid me to see as you see and return the love and attention asked of me. Amen.

Posted by: AT 11:02 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 13 2022

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

 

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 

 

Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you 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.”

-John 13:1-17, 31b-35, NRSV

 

 

Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday... "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus' words "I give you a new commandment." In this account, first Jesus literally shocked the disciples by washing their feet (consider Peter's reaction), then he explained this is what we are to do for one another, to do to others as he has done to us, to serve one another.  

 

Foot washing was done by servants, not by those of higher rank. This was an incredible example of love that the disciples had never before witnessed until that moment. Imagine what they were thinking (or listen to Peter speak it!) when their master was willingly doing this mundane (and unpleasant) task... If you have ever watched the Pope at the annual Holy Thursday mass, it is a long standing ritual for the Pope himself to wash the feet of a group of people who are present. I have seen past popes wash the feet of cardinals. Pope Francis (the current Pope) has washed the feet of prisoners and refugees.  

 

Well, now it's Holy Week. How has your Lenten journey been? It's not too late to join in the processional, though most of us know we are getting into the scary part... the part where we don't understand what Jesus is doing... the part where we, with the disciples, watch in disbelief as he offers himself to the guards, allows himself to be mocked, maimed, and killed... the part where we have to decide if we are going to keep following him to the foot of the cross or run and hide while the scary stuff is going on...

 

I hope you will worship with us (or anywhere) on Easter, whether it's in-person or online. I encourage you to worship with us also tomorrow on Maundy Thursday. We will receive communion. We will hear the account of the night of Jesus' sacrifice. Continue your Lenten journey with us Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m., and then again on Easter morning as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

Prayer for Today

Holy God, draw us close as we reflect on the love and sacrifice of your son. Help us to love one another, to serve one another, as he has done for us. In Jesus' holy name we pray. Amen. 

Posted by: AT 11:01 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 11 2022
The Ultimate Sacrifice

 

From Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

I am sure that many of you, like me, are engaged in watching the tragic conflict in Ukraine. This appears to most of us to be an active act of aggression against the Ukraine people by Russia. And as a result, we are seeing a needless cost of lives, on both sides. 

 

The Ukraine people are in most cases sacrificing their existing lifestyle, and in some cases, their own life for what they believe in, a free and independent country. In this time of Lent, we are once again reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus made to save our lives. While similar, Jesus’ sacrifice was the ultimate one; giving his life to save ours. 

 

As we head into this most sacred week, let us not forget that Jesus gave his life for us, and let us pray that those who are sacrificing their lives and futures are doing similar things for their countrymen. 

Prayer for Today

God, please help us to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for we sinners. Please help us to live better lives and to give and sacrifice for others. Our prayers go out also to the Ukrainian people and the sacrifices they are making for their country. Amen. 

Posted by: AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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