“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
John 13:17 New International Version (NRSV)
We practice as a way of growing into something that may not come naturally. Over time, we learn and practice, and practice and learn. Following Jesus is no different. The scriptures outline a number of things we are to do—share bread, anoint with oil, wash feet, and baptize with water—to guide us into Christ-like living in our day to day lives.
These practices are repeated regularly in our life together as the people of God. We do them, not to effect some magical transformation, but to form ourselves over a lifetime of following Jesus.
These practices of Christian discipleship are described below through images and words. They are tools for teaching about what Brethren have called ordinances.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NRSV)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
WHY DO WE BAPTIZE? Jesus invites us to baptize one another as a marker along our journey of following him. Being baptized in public celebrates that we have received God’s forgiveness. Baptism symbolizes our participation in the church, the body of Christ, the ways we share in what God is doing in the world through our gifts, talents, and whole life.
WHAT’S WITH THE WATER? Water is cleansing and life-giving. Entering the water reminds us that God washes us clean. Coming out of the water we enter into a renewed life of following Jesus.
James 5:13-16 (NRSV)
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
WHY DO WE ANOINT? We anoint one another by gathering with people who are ill, hurting, struggling with decisions or beginning a new phase of life. Our presence, together with the oil and prayers, represents the healing and comfort of Jesus. By anointing one another we trust that God hears our prayers and works for the good of the one we lift in prayer.
WHAT’S WITH THE OIL? Oil has many uses and meanings. It is an ointment for healing our skin. It has been used to consecrate kings, leaders and even new followers of Jesus. Putting a touch of oil on someone’s head prayerfully assures us of God’s healing, constant presence with us as followers of Jesus.
John 13:12-15 (NRSV)
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.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NRSV)
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."
WHAT IS LOVE FEAST? It is a time of worship in four parts that brings to life the self-giving, transformative love we see in Jesus.
1. How have you been growing into your baptism?
2. In what ways are you still in a covenant of love and peace with your fellow followers of Jesus?
3. Are there significant roadblocks to your journey towards wholeness and holiness?
4. How might this community help you on your journey?
After taking time to reflect, we take turns washing each other’s feet each one washing and being washed, serving as Christ to one another
As we share a meal, we slow down enough to pay attention to one another.
In breaking bread and sharing the cup, just as Jesus did with his disciples, we remember the ultimate gift of love—Jesus’ own death and resurrection. Our remembrance calls us to share that love by becoming more like Jesus!