Pastor Matthew Finney
Pastor Matthew Finney was unanimously installed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Sassamansville on Aug. 7 as the 21st pastor. Before receiving the call at St. Paul’s, Pastor Finney served a two-point parish in Western Pennsylvania known as Holy Shepherd Lutheran Parish which was a combination of Holy Trinity Parish in Lanse and Shepherd of the Hills Parish in Karthaus.
Pastor Finney brings many gifts to St. Paul’s. He received his master of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2010. He also has a master of science degree in 2003 from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of science degree in 2000 from Purdue University both in agricultural science.
Pastor’s March Message
At the end of March, we will once again come to the celebration of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday services will be held on March 29 at 7:30 pm. On this day, the Church remembers the last supper of Jesus and the Apostles. We hear the account of the Gospel of John where during the meal Jesus removes his outer robes and stoops down to wash the feet of the disciples. Jesus does this as a sign of love and service. He shows that even though he is their teacher and Lord, Jesus will humbly and willing serve the disciples. Foot washing is not a practice that is common in our society, but in Jesus’ day, it was commonplace. The reasons for this are obvious; for the most part people walked where they needed to go. Of course, the roads were not paved, and people wore sandals. These circumstances lead to very dirty feet. The host of a meal would never be the one who would wash the feet of the guests, though. That job was usually reserved for the lowliest slave or servant.
In washing the apostles’ feet, Jesus shows his willingness to take on the role of the lowest ranking servant in order to make those who follow him clean. As you might imagine the apostles (in particular Peter) are uncomfortable seeing Jesus serve in this way. Peter’s discomfort comes from seeing his Lord (master) serve in such a lowly way. Peter relents and more when Jesus explains to him that he must allow Jesus to wash his feet in order to have a “share” with Jesus. Jesus’ actions point to the cross where he will take on the role of lowly and despised to “wash” us clean from our sins. Jesus also explains to the apostles that he washes their feet to set an example. They will need to wash feet and more as they take the mantle of leadership from Jesus, and lead the Church in spreading the good news of Jesus to the world.
Peter’s objections centered on the role of serving and his discomfort seeing Jesus in this role. I find though whenever the subject of foot washing comes up people seem more uncomfortable with the thought of having their feet washed than washing someone else’s feet. In several different church contexts, I have had the opportunity to be on each side of foot washing. I know I felt more uncomfortable having my feet washed than I did when I was washing feet, and I have heard the same from others. I hope this is only because foot washing is an unusual occurrence in our society. The other explanation is that I (and others) am uncomfortable being served and helped. Being served means admitting that we do not have everything under our own control. Having your feet washed means taking off your shoes and showing the world your own stinky feet. Isn’t that exactly why Jesus has come into the world? None of us has everything under control. All of us have parts of us that stink. We need Jesus to save us from ourselves and from our sins. On the cross, Jesus undertakes the ultimate act of lowly service. He asks us to receive his service and let him wash us clean forever.
The Good Friday service will be at 7:30 pm. Easter Sunday worship will be held at 10:15 am. I hope you can join us to celebrate these holy days.