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Having a Serving Heart

The season of Lent is drawing to a close. On Thursday night we will gather around the table of Christ’s last supper, to remember his sacrifice and to reenact his final act of washing his disciples’ feet. On Friday night we will hear the story of his arrest, his torture and his crucifixion, told through music and the Gospel of Luke. My prayer is that as many of us as possible will gather for worship on these two holy nights so that the power and hope of Easter will resonate more deeply within us on Sunday morning.

Throughout this season we have been exploring some of the basic practices that shape our lives as Christian disciples, and we have devoted each Sunday of Lent to a different practice: reading Scripture, giving, praying, inviting, sharing in covenant and worshiping. If you remember, though, we began the season with seven spiritual practices. But we only had six Sundays of Lent. So, which one have we not explored yet?

Serving. Serving will be our theme on Thursday night, as we gather for Maundy Thursday worship. It is in that service that we read John 13 and remember how Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their feet. We will hear him say to us, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We will remember that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to give ourselves away for others.

To serve is to love. To serve as Jesus serves means we set aside ego and convenience. To serve means we give up controlling the results. To serve others in Jesus’ name means we do not worry about their deserving or their worthiness. We do not ask whether others can return the favor or give back. We simply give. Help. Feed. Build. Tend. Clothe. Visit. Love.

This congregation has a serving heart. There are countless ways that we are sharing the love and grace of Christ in the world. We are visiting the imprisoned every week. We are feeding and housing the homeless through Room in the Inn and Open Table. We are sharing clothing with the poor through Christ’s Closet. We are building homes through Habitat. We are helping children in Sierra Leone and Uganda to go to school, to be healthy and to feel loved. We are helping to educate children in Nicaragua. And, as you know, the list goes on and on.

And then there are the myriad ways that we serve one another within the church: teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, helping with Wednesday Night supper, being a Stephen Minister, giving rides to church on Sunday, etc. For our congregation to be who God is calling us to be, each one of us must find ways to give of ourselves and to serve. Not everyone can teach Sunday School. Not everyone can go to the prison. But every one of us can serve in some way.

One of the things that we must guard against as we grow is the 80-20 rule. You’ve heard it before: eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people. This congregation has never lived by that rule. We have always had widespread participation in ministry and service. Let’s keep it up! Let’s help each other find ways to serve. Let’s look for new ways to spread God’s love in the world. The world needs us to be servants. Our own souls need us to be servants. As we move through this Holy Week experiencing how much God has done for us, let us gratefully respond by asking what we can do for others.