Tag Archives: serving

Rescue Services

Fire, police, ambulance, coastguard – where would we be without them to rescue us when we were in trouble?

A neighbour with a spare key, someone to give us a lift when we’re stranded and run out of petrol, a gift from someone who knows we need it, that person who can lend us some money when we have nothing left, the person who shows us how to do something we can’t work out ourselves, someone to change a light bulb we can’t reach, the people who dig a path through the snow when we can’t…. the list could go on and on of things people do to rescue us day by day.  Some are small things, but mean so much to us; others are huge sacrifices and acts of service for the one doing them, but they do it to rescue those that need it.

Isaiah 49:1-7 (CEV)

The Work of the Lord’s Servant

49 Everyone, listen,
even you foreign nations
    across the sea.
The Lord chose me
and gave me a name
    before I was born.
He made my words pierce
like a sharp sword
    or a pointed arrow;
he kept me safely hidden
    in the palm of his hand.
The Lord said to me,
    “Israel, you are my servant;
and because of you
    I will be highly honored.”

I said to myself,
“I’m completely worn out;
    my time has been wasted.
But I did it for the Lord God,
    and he will reward me.”

Even before I was born,
    the Lord God chose me
to serve him and to lead back
    the people of Israel.
So the Lord has honored me
    and made me strong.

Now the Lord says to me,
“It isn’t enough for you
    to be merely my servant.
You must do more than lead back
survivors
from the tribes
    of Israel.
I have placed you here as a light
    for other nations;
you must take my saving power
    to everyone on earth.”

The Lord Will Rescue His People

Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
    the one who rescues you.
You are slaves of rulers
and of a nation
    who despises you.
Now this is what I promise:
Kings and rulers will honor you
    by kneeling at your feet.
You can trust me! I am your Lord,
the holy God of Israel,
    and you are my chosen ones.

The Lord, promises to rescue his people.  The people are in exile – but there is hope, they will be rescued and brought home.

But, it is quite clear that for that, God needs to use people.  It’s not quite clear to me whether this is still Cyrus, or someone in far more general terms, or it’s directly relating to The Messiah, or Isaiah himself speaking, but God has chosen someone to be his servant and to lead the people back.

What I find interesting is that, whoever this servant was, the task was not easy.  They were worn out and felt that they were wasting their time.  It is easy to get caught up in the belief that if we are serving God, or more specifically serving people in his name, then we will have a rosy glow of doing A Good Thing.  But that is not always the case.  Sometimes serving people is just hard work.  Because people can be difficult, ungrateful and not see what is best for them…

And then to cap it off, in verse 6, the Lord tells them,  “That’s not enough, you must do more”.  Perhaps they weren’t doing as much as they thought they were, or weren’t doing the right thing, what had actually been asked of them?  But the promise remains that God will rescue his people.

So what has this to say to me where I am today?

Well, it’s a comfort that others that have gone before have not always found it a joy to serve the Lord, but sometimes hard work.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing it wrong – just that it is a hard thing that those who are called to serve do (i.e. all of us!).  Sometimes it brings great delight, sometimes it is pure slog.

Sometimes what we do is not enough.  We do our best, and still there is more to do; or we mis-focus and our best misses the target.  Perhaps I need to be open to hearing that possibility.

And most heart-warming of all – it is not me who does the rescuing, but God.  Yes, we need to be a light to the world, we need to point the way and prepare a path – but it is God who does the actual saving of people – and in that I rejoice.

Thank You Lord,that you rescue me.
All those times
when I get into scrapes,
get myself lost,
feel I am drowning,
have run out of my own resources…

Forgive me Lord
when I don’t do enough
to help others,
or do the wrong thing,
or the right thing
in the wrong way,
or not the thing you asked of me.

Thank you
for rescuing the world,
each one of us,
even me

He Lifted Me

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Maundy Thursday – Humility and Love

Washing His Disciples’ Feet

13 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

A New Command

31-32 When he had left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!

33 “Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Best Seat in The House

You walk into a room, and you look around for the best spot to sit. Near enough the heating to be warm, but not so near to be cooked; near enough a window for some air, but not so near that you’re in the draught; near enough the front that you can see, but not so near you might get dragged into the action; a comfy seat; just enough light… Everyone wants the best place.

The Request of James and John

35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, will you do us a favour?”

36Jesus asked them what they wanted, 37and they answered, “When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.”

38Jesus told them, “You don’t really know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized?”

39“Yes, we are!” James and John answered.

Then Jesus replied, “You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! 40But it isn’t for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for God to decide.”

41When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. 42But Jesus called the disciples together and said:

You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. 43But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 44And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. 45The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.

This story has echoes of the “Who will be the greatest” argument of Mark 9:33-41.  Jesus must have felt that he was banging his head against a brick wall – they were still failing to get the point…

God’s new thing was not about who was going to get the best places in heaven.  God’s ways are not about jostling for a nice position, they are about serving others.    The question should be not what favour Jesus will do for them – but what they are going to do for others.

The main focus of Jesus life was to show us how God would live – how we should live, not to bring comfort for eternity.  Following him means nothing if it does not make us act as he did…

 

Our Servant King, calls us to follow him, to daily live out lives as he did – in the service of others.

Are we looking for an easy life, eternal rest, or to serve others as God would?  That might not be a glamorous or easy life – but it is the one God calls us to, for that is how his new way will come. Will you join him?

Tom Wright’s prayer for today (p 105):

Help us, Lord Jesus,

servant and saviour,

to be grasped by your vision of God’s new world,

and to follow you in the servant-work

through which it is accomplished

 

This year, I am again following the BigRead using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone – Mark.  I’ll reflect here – if you’re following it too, or even if you’re not, please share with me.