Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wowed By His Servanthood

Today is Palm Sunday, a day in which we remember the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, initiating the events of Holy Week. With the morning sun filling the sanctuary Pastor Brad welcomed us with these words, "We worship a living Savior," followed by remarks that would lay the groundwork for today's message pertaining to the manner in which Jesus came to us.

Announcements included the following:
1.) There will be an art show on April 29th with everyone invited to contribute. Think outside the box. It could be something sewed, built, canned, carved, knitted or remodeled. This is not the time for modesty. Bring something to share.
2.) There will be no Adventure Club this week.
3.) Thursday at 6:30 everyone is invited to the church to watch The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It's a powerful story based on the classic C.S.Lewis series. Because the film is PG, we're seeking a few volunteers to help in the nursery.
4.) Friday evening we will gather for a special Good Friday service beginning at 7:00 pm.
5.) Because of the activities here, the Women's Bible Study will next meet Saturday morning on May 2 starting at 9:00 a.m. Joanne stated that there will be two sessions that weekend, the first being a make-up session.
6.) Bob noted that the building committee will Thursday after Easter.
7.) Next Sunday is Easter. There will be an Easter breakfast at 9:00 a.m. followed by an Easter Egg Hunt at 9:30.

The quartet led us in worship this morning. During the processional hymn "Hosanna, Loud Hosannas" the children waved palm branches and marched to the front of the sanctuary to lay them down in commemoration of Jesus' glorious entrance into Jerusalem.

The Scripture readings this morning were from Isaiah 50:4-9a, Phil. 2:5-11, and Luke 19:28-40.

Wowed By His Servanthood

Today's message was based on the passage in John 13:1-17 where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Jesus knows He has but 72 hours to live. He knows Judas will betray Him. And He also knows, fully understands, that all power is His.

Brad backtracked to his Transfiguration sermon in which Peter, James and John were on the mountain with Jesus in Luke 9. They saw Him transfigured, saw the glory of God and suggested that this mountaintop would be a good place to stay. Peter didn't know, of course, what he was saying. The true glory is not found in the show of power. Rather, as exemplified in John 13, true glory is revealed in serving others.

Our natural tendency is to want power and recognition. We're enamored with things that are bigger, better, more amazing. Doing a flip on a snowmobile isn't enough. Now it takes a double-flip to wow us.

In the same way, we want our God to be big, to be all-powerful, all-knowing. Even terrifying. We like these attributes of God.

Ultimately, the mystery of who God is is more subtly grasped when we see God as servant. God's humility, His desire to serve us.

We'll never understand the cross without understanding this. God came not as a king or tycoon, but as a carpenter. He rode into Jerusalem on a colt. He came as a servant.

I've had people say to me, "how can you call God a servant? That's blasphemy. That's like a heresy. He's the one on the throne and we should be serving Him."

But what do you call someone who creates you with needs that only He can meet? What do you call someone who will come to you at any time, day or night, at your beck and call? What do you call someone who, no matter how much you've alienated yourself from Him, no matter how much you've betrayed Him, no matter how much you've hurt or wounded Him, no matter how much you've ignored Him, who you honestly and sincerely cry out to Him will come in that instant to meet your deepest needs? What do you call someone who says: don't worry about your clothes, because I clothed the flowers so I'll take care of your clothes.

I don't know what else you'd call someone who's there for everything you need that really matters -- if you'll simply depend on Him -- but a servant.

What's astonishing about God is how He radically alters the entire value system of humanity.

In Philippians 2 we see this picture of God as he comes into the world. Beginning in verse three:

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When Jesus Christ came into the world in an act of servanthood and humility, it was not a stretch for God. God didn't have to alter His nature or His character or His essence. Serving was comfortable for God. God's action was service, His motivation love, His virtue humility.

For this reason we are most like God when we serve.

What we need to grab hold of is that when we serve others, when we begin to lay our lives aside, we will be blessed.

Note how Jesus washed the disciples' feet. He did not make a big announcement. He just put on the towel. Nor was His service at arm's length. He was engaged and directly involved.

Brad told an anecdote here about a businessman who went away to Europe only to return and find his business being badly managed. There were broken windows. The grass was unmowed. When he walked inside, they were all sitting around playing Uno. Yet they were proud of themselves for having memorized the memos.

The point was obvious. God's desire is for His people to live the truths of Scripture, not simply memorize them.

Serving is not something we do to earn points with God. Rather, our service is in response to God's act of servanthood having touched us, re-orienting us to others' needs and not simply our own.

Jesus invites us not to be served, but to serve... and thereby know His fullness.

A celebration of the sacrament of communion followed.

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