Unobtrusive Pride

Sometimes I feel Peter is in the Bible just for me. I really identify with Peter most often. Any other fellow Peters out there? His impulsivity is fueled by his passion. He is well meaning but when he is quick to speak or act at times, he comes up short. I am thankful that God used Peter and the Peters of this world for great things.

Holy Week wasn’t always something I observed. It began when I came to the Anglican Church several years ago. My former tradition was more of a Protestant Evangelical background. We did not follow the church seasons , so we did not follow Holy Week. Easter Sunday was always a huge celebration, but we did not walk out the week with Christ. So the first time I observed a Maundy Thursday service, I was in awe.

On Maundy Thursday there is a foot washing. Our Priests reflect the same humility and servant leadership that Jesus exemplified when he washed the feet of his disciples. This is carried out in our Anglican Church as the rector invites 12 members of the congregation to come to the front pews. Six persons will sit on each side and two priests will each choose a side and wash 6 set of feet.

I watched the first year as my husband and 11 others came forward. I watched our priests wash and dry 24 feet. I was blown away by the humility. The rest of the service is powerful as well, but I will save that for another day. For now let’s talk more about this foot washing business.

So it is my second Maundy Thursday service to attend. Father Stan calls for volunteers from the congregation. I felt a nudge to go. This was the internal dialogue:

Nudge: Go up there and get your feet washed

Me: No, thank you. I will save that place for someone else. I wouldn’t want to take a spot that was intended for them.

Nudge: there are still several places

Me: *looks around for people to see if more are making their way forward* No I am sure others are just waiting to see. Besides I would rather do the foot washing then dare have my priest wash my feet.

Nudge: Shelly, go forward and have your feet washed

Me: That’s ok, someone else needs to more than me

Nudge: Shelly, you think you are being humble, but refusing to be served is a type of pride. Now go up front and let your priest wash your feet.

Me: *slowly nervously walk up and grab a place. Sit quietly fumbling to remove my shoes hoping my feet don’t smell because I am sure in my nervousness they are sweating now*

The priests are making their way through each parishioner.

The priest gets close.

‘Lord, forgive my pride. Sorry I was too embarrassed, too prideful, too worried what others thought to come up here. Lord wash all of me so I can serve you well. ‘

Oh , Peter, Peter I so get you!

I truly thought I was being humble by not going up to have my feet washed. Little did I know that pride comes in various forms. There is the obvious kind exhibited by self importance, arrogance, or a haughty nature. Then there is the kind that is quieter and more subtle. It disguises itself in selflessness.

I learned through a study of David written by Beth Moore when examining King Saul that one can be giving and selfless, but still self-centered. As a recovering people pleaser mind was consumed with constant worry of what others thought.

I had a family member explain “you are not self-centered, you are giving and kind.”That is what I thought, but I was because my thoughts were always on me- what did people think of me, what did they think of what I said or did. It would leave me paralyzed at times.

Through that “David”self study I realized I was a people pleaser like Saul and my people pleasing was holding me back from all God had wanted for me. God also revealed to me in that study that there was a King David inside of me and he wanted to wake up that part of me. He wanted to nurture it and grow it. He had plans for me. What I didn’t know then that I know now was that he had some giants he needed me to face too.

So how does one recover from being self-centered in thought, people-pleasing in nature, and worried about approval of others? God taught me he wanted me to be centered on him.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

So I continued that Bible study and began another one. I fell in love with Christian music. I listened to sermons on the radio from several different pastors on the way to and from work. All I could think about was Jesus.

It was like when you first fall in love and you want to be with that person all the time. When you can’t you want to talk to them. When you can’t do that you want to talk about them to everyone. I found myself a hopeless mess that was head over heels in love with a Savior that took me out of a pit and placed my feet on solid ground. I thought about the Lord. I talked about the Lord. God bless a couple of my friends who knew me back when that contacted me at the time, because I inadvertently beat them over the head with it. I was in love, being transformed.

God placed people around me that would nurture me. He had me move across the street and next door to pastors. My brother became a pastor. The friends I met across the street , the patients in my exam room, the main pharmacy we sent prescriptions to …they all loved Jesus. It was like he saw I was a mess and needed discipleship and he just lovingly surrounded me and hugged me until I fell deeply in love, finally with an understanding that he loved me back. In fact he loved me first.

It was in and through that experience that I learned to listen to his voice, especially through his word in the Bible and learned about those nudges from the Holy Spirit. It was that understanding that placed me on the front pew of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in Spring, Texas with my nervously sweaty and likely smelly feet as I sat humbled and laid down my pride to allow my priest to wash my feet. So I could allow my true love, my Savior Jesus to keep transforming me and making me new.

[For I am]… confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Philippians 1:6

Even now as I use this passion of writing to share my reflection of Maundy Thursday, Peter, and overcoming pride… this witness , this retelling of my story has taken me from a place of complacency in the relative recent past to return to my first love of Jesus. As I typed it out for you I relived the elation and exuberance of my days of exponential growth in my faith as the Lord discipled me. The good news is he is not done with me, as I noted above. And with the rekindled passion, fervor and butterfly in your stomach feeling from my love of my sweet Jesus I will move forward in this Holy Week.

I will walk with my precious Jesus through some wonderful and some trying times. Then I will accompany him , but only as far as the foot of that cross that he bore for me, because I could not bear it. At the foot of that cross I will remember not only my first love , but my first moment of faith when as a 10 year old little girl when even though I didn’t understand it all… I knew that I knew that I knew that this perfect man, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God died on a cross for me and my sins. And I will wait …. So it can sink in deep …..and the resurrection Sunday bells and “Hallelujahs” will resound all the sweeter, louder, and deeper because I walked with my Jesus, my Savior and alas my Lord through this week.

May you have a blessed Holy Week.

The Lord Needs It

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”

Luke 19: 29-31

This prelude to Jesus’triumphant entry into the city kicks off the week that Christ followers call Holy Week. This week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth will unfold with a series of events that lead to his death by crucifixion. Jesus the Messiah will walk out this week in continued obedience to His Father’s will. He would fulfill prophecy and man would be reconciled to God. For this has been the plan all along.

This very moment of instruction to Jesus’ followers was part of fulfilling the plan God had laid forth.

We know Jesus was not received by all as Messiah, because he did not come and do as they expected. However, Jesus came not to fulfill the desires or expectations of the people. He came to fulfill the will of His Father who sent him . He came not to overthrow Rome, but for a greater purpose. He came to defeat sin and death for all, even the people who would reject him.

I want to pause for a moment in the story and consider the God of the universe, Maker of the heavens and the earth subjects himself to the limits of the human flesh. He is a God who needs no thing. He is Maker of all. However, he made a plan and a promise and he used some material things to fulfill that plan.

So the Lord needs a ride into town. He needs it to be a colt to fulfill prophecy. And make note this King of Glory comes riding in on the day of his triumphant, glorious entry to the people not on a large stallion or strong mare, but a colt. God enters in to our world humble and gentle on a colt.

Our Lord does not need anything, but He is a Creator who loves his creation. He knows we need him. We needed a rescue from ourselves . We needed a plan so we could see and understand it. We needed a promise so we could see its fulfilment unfold so that we could understand, take hold of, and believe it in order to receive what it means.

The Lord did not need a triumphant entry, but he was about to walk to the cross. He was about to be beaten, and mocked and nailed to a cross. The Creator of the Universe did not need this passion week, but we did and do. And for love he was willing to do it, because on the third day he rose again according to the scriptures. He rose and dwelt among man. He defeated sin and death and showed us. He let Thomas touch the wounds so that he might see and believe. He promised blessed are those who believe though they do not see .

He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father. He will come again. This time not on a colt but on the clouds. He is coming soon. The Lord does not need us, but he wants us. He wants you as his own.

Palms and Peace

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. We remember Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as we kick off Holy Week.

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:35-40 NIV

It is our tradition at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church on Palm Sunday to begin the service outside. We then process together into our sanctuary waving our palms with regal marching music playing as we honor our King Jesus and his entry into Jerusalem. This year due to the corona virus our Palm Sunday will look different. We have some dedicated people who have put together recorded clips of some of our parishioners and their individual procession with palm leaves so we may still have procession of sorts with our online Sunday worship. There have also been many people on social media that were moved to place palm branches or any branches we could find on our door this Palm Sunday to honor and proclaim our King Jesus. Unable to find anything that resembled palm branches and eager to participate I saw a green sheet of foam in my garage. I took what I had and made my own.

I took what I had and transformed it into something that resembled palm leaves. They are not quite fit for a King, but thankfully my King is very gracious and knows my heart. I know it is not quite the triumphal entry any of us had planned. Reflecting on this, I think of the people in Jerusalem on that actual Palm Sunday.

They had no idea what would unfold that next week. Their expectations of this King they praised and hailed on that Palm Sunday would not be met. Jesus would not be a military leader that used power to overthrow the Roman government and bring peace. His Kingdom was not of this earth. He would instead demonstrate meekness and submit himself the unblemished Passover lamb to death on a cross. Instead of a government, he would overthrow sin, death, and Satan’s power over humanity. His peace was not temporal but eternal and not of this world.

If we look at Jesus through the open of eyes of faith and truth we see he exceeded the expectations of the people. So as we enter this Holy Week that was full of expectation and is met with many unknowns, let us herald our King. Let us wait in hopeful expectation as His peace goes beyond understanding of pandemics or any other situation. Let us proclaim our King Jesus who offers a peace that is eternal and a joy that is invincible. Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!