Wednesday, June 1

Prayer retreat: communion and foot-washing

This past Friday to Saturday I participated in a prayer retreat.
It ended up being a time for me to worship God and to pray on behalf of others.

The highlight of the time there was the communion and foot-washing that we all participated in, near the end. These are in remembrance of what Jesus, as seen in Luke 22 and John 13.

My sister dislikes footwashing. She's the type of person who will shave her legs and paint her toenails if she knows that a footwashing will be happening. And if she has no forewarning, then in the past, she would sit there fretting over her unshaved legs and what the other person is thinking. Foot-washing isn't a normal experience for any of us. I mean, it's one thing to have a stranger give you a's another thing to have a church brother or sister washing your feet. It's uncomfortable. So I appreciated when my sister affirmed the ladies by telling us, "it's okay if this is uncomfortable. Obviously Peter was uncomfortable with Christ washing his dusty feet." But like baptism, foot-washing is a symbol of being washed clean and of identifying with also mirrors Christ's command to serve one another. Serving God isn't always easy or comfortable. Plus, my sister encouraged us to pray over the feet that we washed. I had the privilege of being paired up with my praying over her and serving her was truly a privilege. It was a great unintentional symbolic way to end our mentoring journey, over the last two years.

As for communion, if you attend church regularly, most likely, you practice communion regularly...whether every week, once a month, or once a quarter. But what I appreciated most about this particular communion was a text that my sister read to us. Often, when reflecting on communion, I think about Jesus' physical pain...the pain He willingly endured for me. I also think about my own depravity and how it was my sin that led Him to the cross. But the text that my sister read presented a different perspective. I found the text online and have pasted it below for's a bit long but good! It's from Joshua Harris' Boy Meets Girl:

Why the Cross?

Because it is the unassailable proof that we can be forgiven...

...‘The face that Moses had begged to see-was forbidden to see-was slapped bloody (Exodus 33: 19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s writs. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1: 17). The victim wills that the soldier live on-he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm-the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless-the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being-the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His father! He must face his Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped-murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten-fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk-you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp-buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves-relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.’

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