Devotional for April 28, 2013 – Easter: Meeting Christ in Service to Others

 

Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background

For me (Pastor Courtney), when I ponder meeting Christ I certainly think about my doubts at some point, I marvel in nature, I wonder at devoted women but meeting Christ in service to others is where it is at for me.  As a true extrovert, I can’t help but think it is a no brainer to see Christ when we are in service with other human beings.  Jesus was in service to others all over the place.  For me, seeing Christ in others is the most apparent way to meet Christ over and over again.

Why is that?  First of all there is the direct people contact in service that I find gives me great energy and great joy. Give me a day full of people any day!  There are some in the world that will find a quiet and solitary place to serve and will see Christ there and I want the conversations.  The word is opened up again and again to me in conversations with people.  I can only really get Gospel through my work with others.

Secondly, service is more than just helping out.  Service, to me, acknowledges that we are equal and we are we.  Our Acts lesson highlights that service is no longer for just one group of people.  God is for everyone.  Peter, as a Jewish disciple, is actively serving, preaching and teaching to non Jewish folk.  They are now on equal ground. This is more than just handing out food to pulling someone up. This is true community, discipleship, and change making.  By acknowledging our common threads by serving one another, we all benefit.

Finally, service is a way that I can physically show love for humankind which is what our Gospel lesson is calling us to. Jesus speaks right after washing the disciple’s feet. He speaks all about love.  The act of service, washing the feet, is showing physically the act of love. By serving we meet Christ in our deep love for humanity.

Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest who works with gang members in LA and is founder of Homeboy Industries. He speaks of service as “a common call to delight in one another.” He says the delight comes from entering into full kinship with one another, and shares a story of working with one of his “homies,” concluding: “maybe I return him to himself but there is no doubt he returns me to myself.”  I love this.  By serving one another we delight in one another. It is not drudgery or a chore.  Service is not just pulling people out of some pit but actually delighting in one another and by those acts we might just return to ourselves. This is what we are called to over and over again. Christ calls us to love but in the very action of loving, we somehow open ourselves up to transformation and finding a little bit more of our very being.

If this isn’t meeting Christ, I am not sure what is.

 

Quotes for the Week

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ― Albert Schweitzer

“Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.” ― Rachel Naomi Remen

“At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.”  ― Fred Rogers

“Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning & loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.” – Storypeople

Acts 11:1-18 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                                Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’

Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’

John 13:31-35 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                            When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him,God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Questions for the Week       

When was the last time you participated in an act of service? What happened?

Do you believe Christ has called us to a life of service?

Does service to others change your life? Why or why not?

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About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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