Growing up in a pastor’s home meant that every Sunday we would get to go to someone’s house from our church after the services, spend time eating a grand meal, visit with new friends, and play with kids. My brother and I always looked forward to this day, Sunday. It also meant that at 4:00 we would wrap things up and go back to the church to empty all the garbage cans in the Sunday School classrooms, tidy up the bathrooms, and be sitting in the front pew (where my Mom could keep an eye on us from the piano bench) at 7:00 sharp, ready for the evening service.
Growing up I experienced two ways to serve: receive and give.
Jesus had that magic formula down pat. In his very first miracle he received and gave. He enjoyed the company of his friends and family at a beautiful wedding in Cana, only to get up and save the wedding by blessing the jugs of water with wine. In the third chapter of John, Jesus listened to his mother’s concern about the wine running out and gently tells her in verse 4 that his time has not yet come. But then in verses 6-11, the story reveals that Jesus served anyway. He was a good son, obedient in all his ways. He was not prepared or ready, but he did it anyway. Serving is not timely or convenient, it is just serving.
Love others, and serve.
Throughout his teachings we find Jesus sitting with a friend, listening to a stranger, healing the sick, doing miracles, but also giving bold pieces of wisdom and challenges that change a life. His example to us is something we cannot ignore. He participated in the conversation, and then he got up and did something. Jesus was a hands-on kind of guy. Jesus was my kind of guy. No slacking! His example now sits deep in my soul. Where would I be today without the love and care of my fellow believers in my life serving me though word and deed?
The hands and feet of Jesus on this earth.
On a very ordinary day many years ago, I had three back-to-back days of activities planned for children at VCC. It was going to be the greatest week of summer. But then I got a call notifying me of an unimaginable tragedy. It devastated every member of my family, especially my own children. It was haunting. Drowning in grief, I was struggling to even breathe.
I was paralyzed but the kids at VCC were coming anyway.
A “small group” friend had heard the news and he raced to church before I could get there to take my place. Not far behind him was the rest of my small group. They ran the program like they planned it; it was seamless. They also did not leave our side. We had gathered so many times before this, read scripture and prayed, but they had jumped on the big train of serving when it came to our situation and crisis. They meant business, just like Jesus. Jesus wasn’t about lip service and neither were our brothers and sisters in the Lord. They are still by our side today, many years later.
This is service. Get up and go. Get up and do.
This brother in the Lord of mine did not have the time, but he made the time. This is what Jesus would do. Jesus spent his time pausing, praying, listening to the broken, retreating to hear from his Father, caring for the sick. He slowed his pace down so he could hear, see, and touch the hurting. Not necessarily the “need for speed” that we have in our culture today. A different way to serve, all hands on deck.
He had no calendar, not until his final hour.
In his final hour we learn that Jesus served us with the ultimate sacrifice. No one could ever measure up to this, his life for us, for our sins. Something we can never repay. An act so far from our imagination it is impossible to even wrap our hearts and minds around this service: Jesus, his life, his death, his resurrection. All acts of service. He showed us how to give until it hurts.
What a challenge and what a wonderful opportunity.
Serving is not convenient, or comfortable. When it wrecks your schedule, and blows up the family plans, upsets your life, jumbles everything up, you just might look back one day and say to yourselves,
I like Sunday.