Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
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. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.
Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?
But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’
God of peace and justice,
we pray for the people of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,
that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.
We pray for those with power over war or peace,
for wisdom, discernment and compassion
to guide their decisions.
Above all, we pray for your precious children,
at risk and in fear,
that you would hold and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
A ‘Thought for the Day’ for Black Cat Radio, February 2022
Did you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch last weekend? I wasn’t able to, but I often have in earlier years. The idea is to count birds in your garden or a park so that we can get a picture of how birds are doing. Shockingly, we’ve lost 38 million birds from UK skies in the last 50 years, so it really is vital we do all we can to look after our birdlife.
I’m not at all an expert on birds but I do enjoy seeing them. I have bird feeders and a bird bath in the garden, and it’s really increased the numbers we get. It’s mostly sparrows and starlings, but also some blackbirds and the occasional robin or blue tit. It hasn’t taken much to get more birds into the garden, and they really brighten the place up. They also got me laughing when I saw a small starling squeeze itself with great difficulty in and out of a guard that was supposed to only allow entry to sparrows.
The natural world needs our help these days, with the problems of climate change and the loss of places for wildlife to live. This is important to many Christians because we believe that God made this world and loves it and has put human beings in charge of taking care of it. In fact, there’s a scheme to encourage churches to become more environmentally friendly, and lots of churches have taken it up. Churches are moving to environmentally friendly electricity, reducing water usage, putting up bird boxes and creating wild areas in churchyards.
All of us can help to look after the world we’ve been given and try to pass it on to future generations in a good condition. There’s a lot of natural beauty all around, and it would be really sad to lose it. Nature is also good for our mental health and that’s more important than ever these days.
I know it’s a bit late for new year’s resolutions, but there’s no law against February resolutions, so can I suggest seeing if we might all be able to make some change to help wildlife? Even just a saucer of water might make all the difference and help us fulfil our role as carers of the natural world.