Shenandoah District Connection
Holy Week Edition
April 9, 2020
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet!” (John 13:3-5, NKJV).

Christ Reasoning with Peter, by   Giotto di Bondone   (Cappella Scrovegni a Padova)
Artwork accessed through Wikipedia.com
Call to Worship and Prayer
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:10-12).

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place in which you dwell (Psalm 43:3).


Prayer:
Christ died, so sin could not hold on to us; Christ was raised, so death could not hold on to him; Christ will come, to hold us in steadfast love and hope.

A Note from the District Executive Minister
I am having much difficulty framing an appropriate greeting. My heart is filled with many competing images, and I fear any words spoken will trivialize the dilemmas which we face. What is clear to me is that I hold each of you in high esteem and affection, and you are much in my thoughts and prayers. I continue to be “awestruck” at the faithful response of God’s people during this time of ambiguity and uncertainty. 
 
Over this next week, I will be developing a series of meditations building on the themes of Holy Week and the following days. These will follow the journey with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and Post-Easter reflections and will be published in the Daily Connection. 
 
For most Church of the Brethren congregations, the Thursday before Easter is the time of practicing the Love Feast. This is part of the broader Christian tradition of Maundy Thursday. I must confess that I but dimly understood the context of our practice of the Love Feast within this larger rubric. 
 
Fascinating to me was the learnings around the word “Maundy.” Listen to the following definition: 

“Christ’s 'mandate' is commemorated on Maundy Thursday--- 'maundy' being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means 'command.' It was on the Thursday of Christ’s final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said this commandment to His disciples. Jesus and his disciples had just shared what was known as the Last Supper and he was washing their feet when he stated: 'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.'”*

This definition provides another lens to reflect on Love Feast. Maundy or mandate is Christ’s command to love each other as he as loved us. The practice of love feast, seen against this backdrop, is the way love works itself out in our life together and with our neighbors.  

Source:
Reflections for Maundy Thursday
Self-Examination
In Preparation
A suggested hymn for the first movement is Just As I Am.* Written originally in 1835 by Charlotte Elliot, one verse, in particular, speaks to our life together:**

Just as I am - though toss’d about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am. Just as we are. No pretense, no hiding, no false spirituality. We come with many a conflict, many a doubt. Folks, what a gift of love is this from our God. Come as you are. 
 
But this is also the gift we give to each other. We can come freely to each other with our fears, our anxiousness.

It is not our superior knowledge of God that binds us together but our vulnerability of spirit--just as we are. 
 
Source:
* For All Who Minister, Brethren Press, 1993.
Feet Washing
Symbol of Service
The suggested hymn in For all Who Minister* is When We Walk With the Lord.

"Not a burden we bear, 
 not a sorrow we share, 
 but our toil he doth richly repay; 
 not a grief or a loss, 
 not a frown or a cross, 
 but is blest if we trust and obey."

Refrain:
"Trust and obey, for there’s no other way 
 to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."**

 
What more can we say? That’s the meaning of washing feet: A promise to continue to serve each other, to continue to bear each other’s struggles, and to include our neighbors in this promise. Our God promises to meet us at the crossroads of our service and his mercy. 

Sources:
* For All Who Minister, Brethren Press, 1993.
Scripture John 13:1-17
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s  son,  to betray Him,  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,  rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe  them  with the towel with which He was girded.  Then He came to Simon Peter. And  Peter  said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also  my  hands and  my  head!”
10  Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash  his  feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”  11  For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
12  So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  13  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for  so  I am.  14  If I then,  your  Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Source:
Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011 by  Biblica, Inc.® .
Hospitality
Sharing a Meal
The suggested hymn in For All Who Minister* is Blest Be the Tie that Binds.

"Blest be the tie that binds 
 our hearts in Christian love; 
 the fellowship of kindred minds 
 is like to that above."**

Feet washing and hospitality are closely linked. Psalm 23 tells us that God sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God is our host. With that assurance, we are free to extend hospitality to others. We create a table where we can “pour our ardent prayer; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comfort and our cares."

What a powerful promise and witness is this. Right in the midst of the tragedy of the COVID-19 God, through his people, is setting a table where we can praise our God and with humility and joy proclaim, “Blest be the tie that binds.” 

Sources:
* For All Who Minister, Brethren Press, 1993.
** https://hymnary.org/text/blest_be_the_tie_that_binds
Scripture John 15:9-17
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  10  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11  “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and  that  your joy may be full.  12  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  13  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  14  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  15  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  16  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and  that  your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  17  These things I command you, that you love one another.
Source:
Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011 by  Biblica, Inc.® .
The Bread and Cup
Symbol of Redemption
The suggested hymn found in For All Who Minister is When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:* 

"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
 That were a present far too small;
 Love so amazing, so divine,
 Demands my soul, my life, my all."

Prayer of Blessing for the Bread:
We share the bread of remembrance; with joy, we eat and remember Christ’s body broken for us, the grief of our sin turned to the joy of divine forgiveness.*

Prayer of Blessing for the Cup:
We share the cup of remembrance; with joy we drink and remember Christ’s blood poured out for us, the anguish of separation from God turned to the joy of restoration.* 

Sources:
* For All Who Minister, Brethren Press, 1993.
Scripture Isaiah 53:6
Who has believed our message
     and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
     and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
     nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
     a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
     he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
     and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
     stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
     he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
     and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
     each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
     the iniquity of us all.
Source:
Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011 by  Biblica, Inc.® .
Final Thoughts
The bread and the cup remind of whose we are. We are not our own. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life my all."*
 
Folks, no greater assurance can we have than this. We are God’s. We belong to God. Let us carry this assurance together as we continue this journey through this season.

Source:

To experience today's reflection in a multimedia format, download the PowerPoint slide presentation:

Churches with Alternative or Online Services
Many Shenandoah District churches are streaming services online during this time of time of quarantine and social distancing. Some churches are posting on their church websites, some are broadcasting through Facebook and others are using meeting software such as Zoom . Be sure to download the application needed to view services in the format the specific church is utilizing prior to service times, where applicable.

Special Holy Week Services:

Maundy Thursday: Pleasant Hill will post a link to view service on Facebook

7 p.m. Good Friday: Antioch will stream service on their YouTube channel .
7:30 p.m. Good Friday: White Hill will have a service through Facebook live.

6:30 a.m. Easter morning: Pastor George Bowers will be streaming Sunrise service on Facebook .

7 a.m. Easter morning: Pastors Larry Aikens and Jon Prater will be streaming a joint Sunrise service. The service can be viewed live by following Larry or Jon on Facebook. It will also be posted on the YouTube channel for Pastor Jon CoB after recording.

8:30 a.m. Easter morning: Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center will post an Easter Sunrise service with footage from the sunrise over the Shenandoah Valley as seen from the Heritage Center, as well as meditation from Paul Roth entitled "From Fear to Joy." The link will be posted   here   and at   www.brethrenmennoniteheritage.org .

11:10 a.m. Easter Sunday Parking Lot Worship at Smith Creek.

The following congregations have online access to services:
Antioch  | 8:30 a.m. Sundays | Bible Study
Barren Ridge  | 11 a.m. Sundays | Bible Study
Beaver Creek  | 11 a.m. Sundays
Blue Ridge Chapel | 10:30 a.m. Sundays (check weekly for link) | Bible Study
Bridgewater | 11 a.m. Sundays
Briery Branch | Noon Sundays
Calvary  DVDs will be made available for members upon request.
Cedar Run | 11 a.m. Sundays
Community Mission | 10 a.m. Sundays Drive-in Worship Service by PA system.
Fairview Endless Caverns | 11 a.m. Sundays
Forest Chapel  | 10:50 Sundays; Bible Study | 7 p.m. Thursdays
Harrisonburg First  | 10:30 a.m. Sundays or on  Facebook
Leake’s Chapel  | 10 a.m. Sundays and on  Facebook
Madison | 11 a.m. Sundays on Zoom. Contact Pastor Ed Morris for the Zoom meeting number to enter the worship service
Middle River | 6 p.m. Sundays
Mill Creek   | 10 a.m. on Sundays
Mountain Grove Fulks Run | 11 a.m. Sundays; remain in cars for the service and hear message via PA system.
Mt Olivet | on YouTube.com
Mt Zion-Linville  | 9:45 a.m. Sundays
Oak Hill | 11 a.m. Sundays
Pleasant View-Mt. Jackson  |Daily posts on Facebook | Bible Study on Zoom      
Salem | 11 a.m. Sundays
Staunton  and or on  website
Stone  | 10:45 a.m. Sundays
Summit  and on  Facebook
Valley Pike | 11 a.m. Sundays and on Facebook
Wakemans Grove  | 11 a.m. Sundays
White Hill  | 10:45 a.m. Sundays

These are the congregations who have submitted information thus far. If your congregation wishes to be included, e-mail your info to John Jantzi at the District Office at  johnjantzi@shencob.org .
If you have questions about the Daily Connection, contact:
Director of Communications
Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren
P.O. Box 67
Weyers Cave, Va. 24486
(540) 234-8555
www.shencob.org

Photo by B. Diehl
(Graphics courtesy of pixabay.com, unless otherwise stated)