September 2, Restoring Creation Through Lives of Service

Written by Pastor Mark

Theme Background

This is a transitional Sunday.  We have wrapped up our series on Restoration and are heading into our new fall theme of Living the Questions.  Today we are talking about lives of service.  Specifically we want to lift up people who keep our church buildings functional.  In the first lesson the Psalmist exclaims that one day spent in the courts of the Lord are better than a thousand spent elsewhere.  Caring for the Lord’s house is a special calling.  Many people in our own congregation have quietly taken up that call.  Ron Pittman comes to mind.

When Ron retired from his job as an insurance agent our church issued him a letter of call to be an employee of the church who would be in charge of our physical plant.  Ron makes sure that the buildings are open each morning when they are needed.  He sets up any tables and chairs that a group may need.  He is also the go to guy when anything goes wrong.  He coordinates the use of the buildings with the church office.  I see him once a week going around the church buildings picking up trash.  If a gutter clogs, Ron fixes it.  His pay for all of this work?  Well, let’s just say, I hope he agrees with the Psalmist!

There are so many people who help out with our buildings.  Someone comes to the church late each night to make sure everything is locked up.  They are all volunteers.  A few weeks ago we celebrated those who do the landscaping outside each year.  Another couple has taken it upon themselves to come in each week and clean bathrooms!  Now there is an act of service.  I have discovered that if you want to know where anything is in either building you call Sam Graham.  He is constantly taking care of details that few others know about.  All of this quiet service makes our ministry here possible.

So often we hear Jesus’ call to be a servant as a sacrifice.  I don’t see it that way.  I really prefer to be in the kitchen cleaning up.  I like physical work, especially if it is dirty.  I love the days that I get into the shower and the water runs dark and dirty down the drain.  A part of the reason I love it is because I don’t have to do it all the time.  I can choose, and that makes all the difference.

This week too, we want to celebrate those who do hard, dirty physical work on our behalf.  We rightly celebrate the heroes of 9-11 who charged into burning buildings to save those who were in peril, but what about those who put their lives in danger to work on our roads and highways?  For that matter, what about those who hold the portable slow and stop signs?  Today let’s celebrate that profession which is responsible for improving health and safety more than any other.  Any guess who that might be?  No, not doctors–try plumbers!  The same could be said for garbage haulers.  These are not lofty professions, but they are extremely important to a healthy functioning society.

Jesus call to service is not a sacrifice.  Such service is what makes a life worth living.  The point is to not take ourselves too seriously.  It is a balancing act.  On the one hand we do not say, “That is beneath me, I’m too important to do that work.”  The other extreme would be to say, “Look at how holy I am doing this terrible job.”  Our area of service should reflect our joys and interests.  Of course someone still has to clean the toilets!

 

 

Quotes for the Week

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.          Phyllis Diller

I enjoy the cleaning up – something about the getting of things in order for winter – making the garden secure – a battening down of hatches perhaps… It just feels right.  — David Hobson

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.  —Erma Bombeck

I’m not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on. —Roseanne Barr

There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse. —Quentin Crisp

 

Lesson Psalm 84: 1-3 & 8-12 (NRSV)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!  9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

 

Gospel Lesson Matthew 20: 20-28 (The Message)

20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.

21“What do you want?” Jesus asked.

She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”

22Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”

They said, “Sure, why not?”

23Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”

24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

Questions for the Week

What task do you least like to do on a regular basis?

Is there something about our church buildings that bothers you?  What might you do about it?

What area of service do you enjoy?

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