Back home, in my home church, the Shinglehouse UMC, the bulletin each week listed the pastor, the organist, and then listed: “Ministers: All The People.”
That basic idea is also one of Methodism’s foundational beliefs: that everyone who follows Jesus is a “minister.” And a few of those ministers are asked to be pastors as well.
That little church had captured that. The pastor is there as servant, administrator, and preacher, but most of the ministry of the church actually comes from the lay people who sit in the pews each and every Sunday.
In John 13:3-17, we read how Jesus got up from the table and took off his outer clothing. Kneeling down like a servant, he washed the feet of all the disciples.
Now, this is the last night before his crucifixion. The Twelve still don’t ‘get it’ that he’s about to die, so he tries one more time to remind them of key lessons. He chooses this idea of serving and ministering to others as one of those keys. And Jesus goes about it in a way that they cannot forget. He, the leader, the master, the teacher, the KING, starts acting like one of the lowest of slaves. He gets down and washes their feet.
HE serves THEM!
Verse 4 reads: “so he got up from the table…” and he washes their feet. Later in verse 26, he is back sitting at the table and dipping the bread. Jesus shows them, and us, that service can sometimes be inconvenient; maybe even in the middle of a meal. Now, this was arguably the most famous meal in history (The Last Supper). Yet, by his own example, we see that even a meal is no excuse to keep us from serving others.
When I was growing up, my Grandma Mix really demonstrated this. I remember the big Sunday dinners when she was up & down, back & forth, throughout the meal; making sure there were enough potatoes or meat or beverage or vegetable. If she saw that one of us needed something, especially my Grandpa, she would drop her fork, with food still on it, to go get whatever was needed. Then she would return to her plate.
That’s what Jesus did here. Even though it’s the middle of the meal, he stops eating and takes off his outside coat, rolls his sleeves up (so to speak), grabs a towel, and starts washing feet.
Sometimes service as His disciple will be equally inconvenient, yet still necessary. Yet how many times do we say, ‘Sure, but just wait for awhile, I’m busy now.’?
ALSO, notice that he washes Judas Iscariot’s feet too. They sit down to the meal, Jesus gets up, washes feet, and then goes back to the meal. That’s when he says that the one who will betray him is the one he gives the bread to, and then Scripture even records Jesus talking to Judas. There is no question about it: Judas was there when Jesus washed feet.
How many times do we say we want to serve Christ, but then refuse to serve some just because they’ve hurt us in some way? Unfortunately, we are more likely to say something like “If that’s the way she’s going to be, then just see if I ever try to help her again!” Yet here is Jesus, who already knows what Judas is up to and what he’s about to do, and he still serves Judas!
And lest we think that this is just a message for just the “church leaders” on how to serve their church and their God, look towards the end of this passage in John 13:
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
ANY of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are his disciples and are called to follow his example. We are to be involved in service; through the local church and as individuals. How has he equipped you to help this church serve those around us?
Throughout this month our Nominations & Lay Leadership Committee will be recruiting people to serve on the 2017 Ministry Team. Where does God want you? Has he called you to a specific ministry?
It reminds me of the story I once read about “Who’s Job Is It?”
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. (author unknown)
Jesus is our example here. We are to serve. We are to serve even if it’s inconvenient. We are to serve even those whom we don’t like or who hurt us. But how we serve speaks of how we love our Lord.
(Adapted from the Sunday morning sermon on September 18, 2016 and used as the pastor’s letter for the Carmichaels: First United Methodist Church newsletter, October 1, 2016)