Called to serve (14-04-22)
A Bible Reading: John 13. 4 – 7, 12 - 17 Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
As we have begun looking together as a church at the Leading your Church into Growth (LyCiG) materials, we have recognised that there are three areas of church life in which we need to grow: in numbers; in discipleship; and in community involvement. Wherever we are on our journey through life, we can make a decision to follow Jesus and to share our life’s journey with him. This is a decision to grow in discipleship that has been made by millions of people over the centuries, following the example of the first twelve disciples.
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day when we remember Jesus’s final meal with his disciples.
Over three years of ministry, Jesus has called twelve men to follow him and to work closely with him. These men have slowly grown in their faith from initial enquirers or seekers to disciples, who have shared in Jesus’ ministry and his involvement in the community. Jesus has taught his disciples in part by word but more often by example. They have become his apprentices, learning on the job. Now they sit down together with Jesus for what is now known as ‘The Last Supper’, and Jesus continues to demonstrate to them what he expects of them in the future if the church is to continue to grow.
John’s gospel gives us an intimate account of this last meal. Here Jesus is the model servant. The washing of the guests’ feet was a job for the lowliest household slave or servant to carry out when the guests arrived. Jesus is clearly demonstrating that if no task is too menial for him, no task is too menial for his followers.
Translated into church life today, I can remember thinking early on in ordained ministry, nobody had told me how many hours I would spend putting up Gopak tables and arranging chairs in a room, or cleaning church toilets and checking there is enough loo roll. Not very glamourous, but essential tasks if an event is to go well. At church spring-cleaning a week or two back, servant leadership included clearing up rather a lot of bat poo!
Later on during the supper, Jesus tells his disciples to love and care for one another in the same way he has loved and cared for them. He then goes further, and says: “I no longer call you servants… I have called you friends.” (John 15. 15) Jesus calls us to be servants, but more than that, he calls us to be his friends. Let’s remember that as we serve one another in the mundane and menial tasks of life.
Lord Jesus, you have shown us by example how to serve one another, may we know your call of friendship as we follow in your service with humility and generosity. Amen.
The Servant King by Graham Kendrick