March 18, 2015 – Wednesday, 6:15 pm
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Virginia, MN
“TO SERVE ALL PEOPLE FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS”
Texts: 2 Timothy 2:1, 15, 22-25; Philippians 2:1-11; Mark 10:32-45
Good evening. We are now one week and a half away from Holy Week. These past 4 weeks we have been journeying along with Jesus toward the cross through the covenant of our baptisms. We have been exploring what it means to be “Living Our Baptism: [to] Walk Across the Water” as it were by stepping out of our comfort zones. We’ve been reminded “To Live Among God’s Faithful People”, “To hear the Word of God and Share in the Lord’s Supper”, and “To Proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Through Word and Deed”. Tonight we will focus on what it means “To Serve All People Following the Example of Jesus.”
As Children of God, baptized and set free from the powers of sin, we are called to live a new life. A life that is transformed by the love of God in Christ Jesus as well as a life that serves all people. Not just the ones we like…but all people.
This evening’s texts lay out a sort of “job description”, if you will, as to how we are called to live lives of love, faith, gentleness, kindness and service – not just in isolation (it would be easy to be kind if there weren’t any people around! Right?!) But this job description goes beyond individualism. It is just as important, maybe even more important, for the whole community gathered together and for the entire community outside of these walls. Herein lies the challenge to live a life of service following the example of Jesus.
Let’s take another look at what we heard this evening.
* Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, and a pure heart
* Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies
* The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness
* Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit
*In humility regard others as better than yourselves
* Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
And Jesus said,
* Do not lord it over others – it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.
* For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Hmm…Kind of flies in the face of our culture where we are all bombarded with messages to think about ourselves – how we look, what we drive, where we go, who will see us and notice what we are wearing, how many toys and fun stuff we can accumulate because advertisers are paying big bucks to get you to work harder to make more money so you can buy their stuff… “Nice guys finish last” so get what you can now at any expense to anybody. Really? Is that what discipleship looks like?
Is that what life is meant to be about? Will “things” and “envious looks” bring about deep joy and a purpose in living a life that is meaningful? Does running on the hamster wheel until we are exhausted model the love of Christ? Or, might we broaden our vision and deepen our relationship with Jesus by learning from his example…building relationships with people, offering hope and healing, welcoming, encouraging and accepting others, feeding the hungry and helping those in need, listening to the lonely, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping alongside those who weep.
It is through the love, caring and serving of others that Christ’s love is made known to the world. Jesus calls us to serve one another – not grudgingly out of duty – but out of response to the love and mercy He has blessed us with. When caring service is done out of love and kindness, it is noticed. And it makes a difference in the lives of others.
A couple of years ago, I got hooked on the TV program “The Voice”. I am always blown away by the incredible talent and the stories of the contestants. It’s also kind of fun to hear the friendly bantering between the coaches but you can tell that they still have respect for one another even when they are teasing each other. You can tell they have a passion for music . They do some great coaching. There is also a deep sense of competition between them! The coaches are famous, wealthy and known around the world. They have the world “by the tail” so to speak…but last night, they were the ones who were blown away and humbled by the solid performance of one young man named Sawyer.
Sawyer was partnered up with a young gal who was really nervous. She was equally as talented as many others there but she was just starting out with less experience singing in front of a large crowd. What caught the attention of all the four coaching stars, was Sawyer’s humility and stage presence. Even though his future could be made, detoured or changed by his performance, his care toward the one he was called to sing with was tangible. He refrained from grand standing to gain more attention to himself. His demeanor and humility gave courage to the one struggling with nervous anxiety.
They both sang their socks off and sounded amazing together! However, the judges also noted his deep humility…his willingness to be less (not in terms of his gifts but his public actions) for the sake of the other. He was working as a solid team member. His conduct throughout the hours of rehearsals and competition spoke volumes about his character, about his values, about what is important in his life. I like to think his actions will continue to have an affect not just on the coaches but also with everyone who was watching.
Where is God calling us to serve in a similar manner? To lay aside our egos or personal agendas for the sake of the other team member, for the whole people both inside and outside of this building? And, like Sawyer, to humbly listen and graciously serve the other whether it is in a committee or council meeting, a school function, as captain of a team or first chair in music, or even in a grocery store or your neighborhood? How can we model Christ’s servant hood through our words and actions with care and kindness – not because we “have to” but because it is the nature of being a Child of God! It is our commission given in the waters of baptism and sealed by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them…But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
A poem entitled, “Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant way” by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. seems to wrap up tonight’s theme very nicely and will serve as a prayer…
Lord, help us walk your servant way wherever love may lead and, bending low, forgetting self, each serve the other’s need.
You came to earth, O Christ, as Lord, but pow’r you laid aside. You lived your years in servanthood,
in lowliness you died.
No golden scepter but a towel you place within the hands of those who seek to follow you and live by your commands.
You bid us bend our human pride nor count ourselves above the lowest place, the meanest task that waits the gift of love.
Lord, help us walk your servant way
wherever love may lead
and, bending low, forgetting self,
each serve the other’s need.