What a fantastic Sunday – full of fun, food, fellowship. Please thank the terrific team who made this possible, Doug, Dick, Sallie W., Josh, Patti, Henry!
And Sunday was full of faith, as we came to The Table to say “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to serve…
Invitations to Blessings
On Sunday, Jesus invited us to serve – By letting him cleanse us from whatever gets in the way; use us to cleanse and change lives; receive his blessings when we do. (John 13:1-9,12-17,34-35)
- Jesus kneels and washes the feet of his disciples – not for hygiene, but to set the example. We are called/commanded to follow, humble ourselves, to serve our sisters and brothers. Jesus knows that serving as he does is often in short supply – so he gives us three Secrets of Serving. The 1st: Let Jesus cleanse us…Then we will be able to serve as he does!
- In Jesus’ time, the humblest servant washed the feet of all who entered the house, to cleanse the dirt from the roads (since they walked with bare feet or sandals). This was necessary, because they ate in reclining position, with feet toward the food and each other. So the cleansing made it possible to receive the nourishment and blessings of the food offered by the Master of the house. Jesus’ washing was symbolic of serving, to open our lives to his, our Master’s blessings.
- When Peter objects, Jesus responds, “Unless I wash you, you will not belong to me, have no part of me,” his ministry, his blessings. We must let Jesus cleanse away whatever gets in our way – pride; greed; anger; judgment; selfishness (of time, resources, priorities); addictions to alcohol, money…
- Darby Schultz (the daughter of Patsy Nesbitt) testifies to this: She is an alcoholic, who filled a hole in her life with alcohol and all that comes with it. Her life began to change when she confessed that she could not overcome her addiction, only Jesus could; he sent her servants – an AA group; a sponsor; friends who helped make her clean and stay clean…to identify herself now as loved cherished, redeemed, reborn…and serving by telling her story and helping any who need someone, to do for them as others did for her.
- If we let Jesus cleanse us, his 2nd Secret of Serving will come alive in us: If we let serve as Jesus serves…he will use us to cleanse and change lives! Jesus concludes his message, “Now that I have washed your feet; I have set an example that you should do as I do!”
- Some of you have served me like that, helping to cleanse and change me – my need to control; impatience; my need to decide what is important to take up my time… You made it possible for me to see what is most important, opening my life to “interruptions,” to be with you and talk with you when you need me…to use these interruptions to love, cleanse, and serve as Jesus does, so that others can receive his blessings of Abundant Life.
- I met last week a living example of Jesus’ example. Keith washes cars as a part time (of many) jobs; as I drove him to some other customers, he shared with me how he had made some bad decisions 12 years ago, resulting in no job or place to live, to believe that his life was at an end…until a Pastor and some men from a church got to know him; prayed with him; found him some odd jobs and a place to live. “Now I am married with two wonderful kids; and on Sunday after Worship, I go with some men to prison to offer the Bible, Worship, prayer, help men let Jesus into their lives; I follow up when they get out; help them get jobs and a place to live. Now three of those men go with me to prison, no longer prisoners, but as free men to set men free!”
- Jesus wants to use us to set prisoners free, by serving and loving as he does. Imagine what would have happed if those men had not taken the time and effort to serve Keith; imagine what could happen if we love and serve as Jesus does, as Keith now does…maybe moving those we serve to go with us to do as we did for them…
- When we serve like that, we discover Jesus’ 3rd Secret of Serving: If we let Jesus use us to serve as he serves…we will be blessed! Jesus promises, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them!” I have received his blessings here…as did Henri Nouwen in a powerful way. Henri was a religious rock star, an extremely popular professor at Yale; writer of books that sold millions; an internatilaally sought after speaker. But Henri was anxious, stressed, depressed, because his life was driven by a need for affirmation and acclamation…until friends led him to be cleansed of his burden, to give up his religious rock star life, and become a care-giver at L’Arche in Toronto, caring for men who were severely challenged, physically, mentally, spiritually.
- One of those men was Trevor, who did not talk or relate to anyone. Henri loved, served, encouraged Trevor. Months later, he was talking and conversing with everyone. One evening, Henri took Trevor to a dinner of theology professors where he was to speak. During the dinner, Trevor suddenly stood up and began to sing, “If you are happy and you know it, raise your glass…” At first the men sat stunned, until slowly all were standing and singing with him – Until he stopped them and asked, “Know why I am happy? ‘Cause Henri loves me!”
- Henri reflected later, “Trevor was happy, but I was more than happy; for the first time my life was filled with peace, love, joy; was fulfilling; I knew I truly belonged to Jesus! There is a Darby, Keith, Henri, Trevor out there with our name on them, someone Jesus puts in our path. Without us taking the time to love and serve them, we do to know who they will become – with us, we will know…they will be blessed…and so will we!
Connection for the Week: Ask Jesus to cleanse you from what gets in your way of serving as he serves; ask him to open your eyes to that person who Jesus can use you to cleanse and change; and experience his blessings when you do.