By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.
The Psalmist begins with an expression of love for God. God has heard his prayers, “he inclined his ear to me”- he listened carefully. Sometimes we can’t express our prayers well because we are too emotional. God listens carefully and hears our needs even when we can’t explain them.
In response, the Psalmist then wants to give something back to God in an expression of thanks.
He says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Lord’s name.“ This Psalm was part of the Passover celebration and likely used during Christ’s last meal with his disciples. It brings us to our celebration of Holy Communion and the cup representing the blood of Christ. As we meet together in community and celebrate Holy Communion, we are entering into a closer relationship with God through Christ.
He also says he will keep the promises he has made to the Lord. When we were baptized, our parents made vows to nurture us in the Christian faith and the congregation promises to nurture one another including the person being baptized. When we joined the church, we made our own vows to be part of the community and to faithfully participate in its’ ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.
He says, “I will be your servant”. Servanthood is an important part of being Christian. Jesus was a servant leader and as he washed the disciples‘ feet, he spoke to them about servant leadership. We speak of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We join in the work that God has appointed to us, whether it is our job or volunteer work; in the church or in the community. We want to work for the kingdom of God.
In this time, we are celebrating the work of healthcare workers- medical and nursing staff, therapists, and first responders as they care for patients and put their own health at risk. We celebrate the grocery store workers and employees of companies that are still at work, to help us with our essential needs. For some of us, the most important thing we are doing is staying home, calling others who are alone, sending messages of love and care to others.
We are separated physically, but we are still a community of faith, held together by our love for God and one another. We join in the worship of Christ tonight, through his last meal with the disciples, through his prayers in the garden and his arrest by the Roman soldiers. We will remember his trial and crucifixion tomorrow and wait on Saturday in a time of mourning.
In thanks to God, we will offer our thanksgiving and keep the promises that we have made to God. Praise the Lord!
A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet
By Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III, Rhode Island/Souteastern Massachusetts District Superintendent (based on John 13:1-17 and Psalm 116:15)
Abba Father, Daddy God, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. As this new day unfolds, a day filled with new mercies, I bring your people to your throne of grace, those whose heads are bent down with pain and despair. Those whose lives seem isolated and unbearable. I bring those who miss and even crave the physical fellowship of the sanctuary.
As the song writers, John Thompson and Randy Scruggs, wrote, “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.” Give them the strength to see beyond the natural, temporary world we live in and increase their faith to sing to the rafters, that You are Lord.
On the night before you were led to a cruel death on a cross for our sins, you not only shared your body and your blood, but you modeled true servant leadership. Just as you washed the dirty smelly and tired feet of all your disciples including Judas, the one who betrayed you with a kiss and 30 pieces of silver. I ask that you provide a healing touch to the souls of all of your creation who are worshiping you virtually.
As we fast approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I also ask that you grant those who have lost loved ones (first responders, family members, colleagues) during this pandemic season your overwhelming peace and presence as you remind them that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints” (Psalm 116:15). Give them solace to know that nothing will separate them from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Please don’t let their faith be weakened during the season of waiting rather increase their ability and desire to seek you even more. Give them strength to run on and see what the end will be.
I seal this prayer in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen (So Be It).