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Much of what I have to say today follows on from last week. Fellowship was described as sharing, in partnership and Anthony Billington even talked about gifts of serving.
What we are going to do this morning is consider Jesus’ principles about service and then we are going to end the worship with a Fair of many of services that go to make this church happen. As you can see round the room there are a number of posters identifying many of jobs that are done. You are invited to wander around and talk to those already involved and think about what you can do in the service of Jesus Christ in this church. You can collect Tea and coffee in the usual way, once it is ready and bring it back to continue exploring the fair.
I want to step back and begin with the words of Jesus on which we base our Fellowship and serving one another.
When speaking about community care we listened to Jesus saying “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”. His take on that Old Covenant principle was what is called the Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” Matthew 6: 7:12
Listen to Jesus on the subject of loving one another.
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
These are profound words. But not just words. Jesus calls us to love as he loved. It is not enough to love as we would like to be loved; he calls us to imitate him.
These words are said in the upper room, Jesus is contemplating his own death by crucifixion but he wants the glory of the Father. Your salvation is so important to him and the Father; he is committed to the chosen way for which he came to earth. In this Passover meal, he will lift the unleavened bread and say, “This is my Body, given for you.”
So this morning’s communion reminds us of how your salvation was won. It also reminds us of the benchmark for our love for one another.
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
The Last Supper began with this being spelt out in service.
READ John 13:1-16
1. He chose to serve.
The act of washing his disciples’ feet also leads to him dying on a cross for their and our sins. This is a critical point. Jesus chose to give his life as a ransom for you. He was not a victim, he was a willing sacrifice. In Hebrews we read ‘’”For the joy that was set before, he endured the cross, despising its shame”. Elsewhere it is described as like child-birth. Pain is endured for the joy of a new life. Jesus uniquely died in your place. The Bible says no man can give his life as a ransom for another, it is too costly. Jesus did because he was God’s son, because he was sinless and because he loved you.
That teaches us that our service has to be a willing choice. We serve one another because we want to, because we want to express our thankfulness for the love we have received and want to share that love. Our service has to be a response to the love of God or it is a mistake. Earning God’s approval is a wrong motive for action. God loves you already. Enjoy his love and respond to it.
2. He establishes a key principle of leadership.
This example is meant to relate to leadership. We actually know when we are being servants, that is, when people expect us to serve and take advantage of us. We need to understand Jesus’ approach. Jesus talks through Peter’s blustering and insists on doing the most menial of jobs, washing dusty feet. Elsewhere he rules out the religious titles we love to use. M atthew 23:8-12 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Our Catholic brothers and sisters point out that Jesus used hyperbole or overstating to make a point and that Paul says in 1Cor 4:14-15 “For I became your Father in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
The point is that titles have always been used to induce power and authority. And we must take care not to circumvent the principle by making clever dodges. For example, calling a man a ‘minister’ when actually we are recognising his authority and too often there is little evidence of servant-hood. Jesus chose to lead another way, by setting an example of servant-hood. He said “Follow me” rather than simply “Obey my Commands” and his command was to love one another. This is a challenge to everyone in leadership and aspiring to leadership. Spiritual leadership involves a lot of serving and very little pronouncing.
3. He permits no exceptions.
verse 6 says Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. These words were said to what we would expect to be the spiritual elite. Jesus refused to allow Peter to opt out. Every one of us is called to serve one another. And that also means that we must accept that others will serve us. The early church “had everything in common”. Wealth was shared and there was great concern when Greek widows were seen as disadvantaged and the matter was sorted. No one is excluded from the call to serve or the need to be served.
4. Imitation brings blessing
John 13: 17 says “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
It is important to see that the church is blessed by reflecting the body language of Christ. We are designed to work in imitation of Jesus. That is how and when his Holy Spirit has free course in our lives and fellowship.
I have spent a lot of time concentrating on Jesus’ example because it is the key to the church working together in the Spirit.
We do not have time to discuss what we mean by service. In many ways this is an open issue. It touches on the spiritual gifts, teaching, discipleship, prayer and fellowship. This morning we are going to give you an opportunity to consider some of the practical services we share. Round the room are signs promoting various services and in few minutes someone will be by them who can explain what the words represent in terms of action. We are calling it a “Vision fair” and the idea is that you wander around and find out what opportunities you may have to serve. You may not wish to commit yourself to do something today, you may want to go away and think about it but please take the opportunity to find out.
You may be thinking “I can’t do anything like this” You are still a valued part of the body of Christ. They also serve who only worship and pray. The church is about relationship not jobs but today we are concentrating on jobs a bit, but you don’t have to sign up to anything, you serve as God calls you to serve. On the lectern is a blank sheet. You may want to add a service that we didn’t think of. do so because SRCF is moving forward and old ways have to give way to new ways of meeting the spiritual needs of each other and build up the body of Christ. Biddy and Sandra will have tea and coffee available as soon as they can and you are welcome to collect it, bring it back into the main hall and continue your exploration of service at SRCF! Please take care though we don’t want tea poured over anyone! So we will bless one another and then the service continues in the ordered chaos of our Vision Fair.
Stand and turn to those around and say together Number 6:24-26
24 The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
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