Today was an amazing day in ministry! I have been working with several lay leaders from my congregation, Meridian Street United Methodist Church, and many ministry partners over the last few month to plan our large service event called “Serve Indy”.
We began the day with an abbreviated worship service at 9am. It really wasn’t shortened though, because our worship flowed directly into service. From 10am to 1pm, 156 people from Meridian Street went into the City of Indianapolis to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Just as our Call to Worship said, “Some will clean, some will rake, some will paint, some will cook, some will write cards, some will bake, and all will serve with love.”
I had the privilege of driving around the city this morning to visit the work sites and make sure every team had what they needed. I saw people laughing, loving, and serving. There was a joy and love that went forth with our congregation as they served.
My heart is overwhelmed by the response of this congregation to serve. As the Body of Christ, they care, love, and serve. I am thankful. I am inspired. I prayed and prayed for this event, for those who signed up to serve, for our ministry partners and those they serve. God answered my prayers. Today was an amazing day where the church left the building to “Serve Indy”.
Sermon “A Servant’s Heart”, Scripture John 13: 4-17 (From the abbreviated “Serve Indy” worship service)
“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that the way of service is the way of grace and love for our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, even the stranger, all Gospel themes here, and we live out our faith, what we believe in, by putting our faith into action. We all can think of those who have had servant’s hearts. Perhaps Dr. King comes to mind. I often hear Mother Teresa lifted up as the prime example. While they are servants, I come back to Dr. King’s quote, anybody can serve.
I am delighted you are here this morning and that you are willing to put your faith in action and live out this call to service in the name of Jesus Christ. We are sending nearly 150 people into mission this morning around the city. Some of you will be raking, baking, serving food, cleaning, writing cards, painting, among many other activities, all to the glory of God. My prayer is that we will see Jesus in our service this morning.
I understand that some of these activities are not the easiest, most glamourous, or exciting things to do, I get that, but at times we’re called to get onto our hands and knees and do the hard work of service and ministry. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what we’re called to do as well.
That Maundy Thursday night, after the Passover meal was over, the disciples looked at him dumbfounded, trying to figure out what their Rabbi was about to do. Jesus knelt before the disciples, got a towel ready and placed his hands in the water. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet,” Peter asks. “Are you really going to do this?” This task, foot washing, was kept for the lowest ones in the room, the servants. Now, this Rabbi, teacher, Messiah, and king, was about to kneel down and wash the dirty, smelly, and tired feet of his disciples.
We have to remember that in the 1st C. the roads were dusty and dry, until it rained, then it was mud. Wherever you went, your feet became dirty. Yet, Jesus was willing to take the lowest place, some might say, the most challenging place, and wash his disciples feet. All I can say is that you’re lucky that I didn’t have an opportunity to wash people’s feet downtown, which was one idea that I had that was vetoed.
What we really learn from Jesus here is that he set an example for his disciples in that moment and for all his followers to come. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you,” Jesus said. Jesus sets this example of humble servanthood. The heart of a servant is to take on some of the lowest, most challenging jobs, and to do them with grace and love. Ministry and service are not always easy, but we will be blessed if we do them as Jesus said. More importantly, we will be a blessing to others.
I pray that as we prepare to leave from this time of worship this morning that we will be guided directly into service. I pray that we will keep this image of Jesus, the Christ, the King, the Messiah, kneeling down, taking the lowest place and humbly serving others. So when you’re painting, raking, writing cards, baking, cooking, and loving, remember Jesus. Remember the greatest servant of all and follow him today and always. Amen.