Tag Archives: Serve 2013

Serve? Grandparents did Parents did. Do we?

given on Sunday, September 8, 2013

         Watch the news tonight and see what lime green shirts show up.  Churches across Missouri and beyond are sporting them and stepping out of the norm to serve.  Today is also Grandparents Day.  [The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.   Accessed on September 7, 2013 at http://www.grandparents-day.com/]  In fact, both events are clearly labeled on many calendars and both share a key ingredient—the servant heart.

Reading through the Old Testament the last few months, the emphasis seems to be on taking rather than serving.  But let’s consider the concept of service as an action rather than just another church term.

First of all, serve is the base word and originated in

Origin: 1125–75; Middle English serven  < Old French servir  < Latin servīre,  equivalent to serv ( us ) slave (cf. serf) + -īre  infinitive suffix

 

Looking at that first, turn to the actual definitions of the term as listed in dictionary.com:

serve

[surv] http://dictionary.reference.com/help/luna/Spell_pron_key.htmlShow IPA verb, served, serv·ing, noun

verb (used without object)

1. to act as a servant.

2. to wait on table, as a waiter.

3. to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we’re serving at six.

4. to offer or distribute a portion or portions of food or a beverage, as a host or hostess: It was her turn to serve at the faculty tea.

5. to render assistance; be of use; help.

Relevant Questions

How To Serve

What To Serve With Crab …

What Is A Serving?

What To Serve With Salmo…

 

verb (used with object)

12. to be in the service of; work for.

13. to be useful or of service to; help.

14. to go through (a term of service, imprisonment, etc.).

15. to render active service to (a sovereign, commander, etc.).

16. to render obedience or homage to (God, a sovereign, etc.).

noun

32. the act, manner, or right of serving, as in tennis.

Idioms

33. serve one right, to treat one as one deserves, especially to punish justly: It will serve you right if she never speaks to you again.

 

I am sure that some of these definitions do not fit the focus for Serve 2013, some might not fit as descriptors for what our grandparents did, but some do fit quite well.  Therefore, combining the discussion of serve and of Grandparents Day makes sense.

I am sure that each one of us can close our eyes and picture our grandparents reaching out to serve someone in some manner.  Even if that picture includes us as kids, teens, young adults, middle aged adults, or even as their caretakers, I expect there was always a giving of self in one way or another.

My own experience includes two sets of grandparents who were weekly role players in my life.  My mom’s parents lived six miles northeast of us and my dad’s parents lived eight miles southwest of us when they left the farm and moved in town.  Typical Missouri farmers, my grandparents were active in and around their farms, our farms, and even our cousins’ homes.

Never did I find my grandparents without chores to do.  Never did I discover that going to my grandparents meant sitting down and simply watching TV.  Even as they aged, the fingers and the minds of these four individuals were busy serving family, friends, and churches.  Not one of the four followed the same path or even had similar styles, but each one served in one way or another.  And each one of them served to the glory of God.

Serve 2013 in the third annual Methodist corporate event.  Anything new is challenged and the practice of church members stepping outside the church building on a Sunday morning to “worship” through acts of serving challenges our paradigms of Christian worship.  Where is the scripture?  What hymns are being sung?  How can we learn without a sermon?  What about the weekly offering?  The challenges can create a barrier for the church to step outside its walls and serve.

Now think about this:  How many of our grandparents or possibly great-grandparents did not even have a church building in which to worship?  My grandparents did, but they, too, were small rural churches that were supported primarily by the founding fathers who established their farms around that community.  At least that is the history of my dad’s parents.

My mom’s grandparents were not so fortunate to be within the immediate reach of their families.  In fact my grandpa had been widowed when he was just 33 and had a toddler daughter.  He lived in one community working at a brick plant.  He moved into the country during the depression but struggled.  And somewhere along the early years of his second marriage, he had a son and eventually bought a farm in another community about 15 miles east.  Never, though, did he quit serving God, even though he changed communities and churches.

Grandparents modeled God’s commandment for many of us.  Granted not every grandparent did, but here we sit in 2013 and we are in a relationship with God in part to our grandparents, who modeled for our parents, who modeled for us.  Living a God-centered life does not mean we are free from the trials in our earthly life, nor does it mean we are automatically sin-free.  We can honor our grandparents, and our grandchildren can honor us today, but to honor God we must serve.

This may feel as though I am using circular logic, but consider how we learn most of our skills.  We learn by watching, we learn by practicing, we learn by doing, and we pass it on to the generations yet to come.  If God had given up on the Jewish people, would he have sent Jesus?  If God had given up on the earliest Christians, would we have had more contemporary disciples like John Wesley?  Finally, if God had given up at any time, would we have had our grandparents, our parents, our children and our grandchildren?

Each generation is challenged with the trials and tribulations that an earthly life creates.  Some of the situations are strictly acts of nature.  Some are the result of horrific crimes of humanity against humanity.  Some are the failures to teach a generation about God, about loving one another, about serving one another.

The Bible tells us over and over how to treat one another.  Even in the Old Testament the stories share the positive outcomes when one person serves another to the glory of God.  The New Testament is entirely focused on loving one another at the expense of all other earthly actions.  And today, we are refocused one more time as our corporate church, the Missouri Conference asks all Methodists to serve.

Is there any better way to honor our grandparents than to serve?  Is there any better way to share God’s love than to serve one another?  Is there any better method to teach our children and our grandchildren about God’s love than to demonstrate serving?

During the next week, or even yet today, look around and see how God’s children are serving one another.  Watch the news.  Look for the green shirts wherever you are today.  Look at how people serve—even if there are no green shirts.

Make a list of the ways you serve.  Last week, we served right here in our own community.  Did we serve in love?  Did we serve as a ministry?  Do our kids and our grandchildren know why we serve?  Do they join us in our efforts to serve one another in love?

Each and every way that we serve one another, we honor God.  For many of us, we also are following the examples of our parents and grandparents who knew God’s grace and wanted to serve others as an outreach of Christian love.  In order for the world to be transformed, we must serve one another in Christian love.

While searching for today’s hymns, I found one was unfamiliar, “Help Somebody Today.”  Here these words and consider how many times you witness someone crying out for God’s love and how many different ways there are to serve.

Help Somebody Today

Mrs. Frane A. Breck, lyrics & Charles H. Gabiel, score

c. 1932, Renewal.  Rodeheaver Co., owner.

the Upper Room Hymnal, no 60

Look all around you, find someone in need, Help somebody today!

Tho’ it be little—a neighborly deed—Help somebody today!

 

Many are waiting a kind loving word, Help somebody today!

Thou has a message, O let it be heard, Help somebody today!

 

Many have burdens too heavy to bear, Help somebody today!

Grief is the portion of some ev’rywhere, Help somebody today!

 

Some are discouraged and weary in heart, Help somebody today!

Some one the journey to Heaven should start, Help somebody today!

 

Chorus

Help somebody today,

Somebody along life’s way;

Let sorrow be ended,

The friendless befriended,

Oh, help somebody today!

 

Closing Prayer:

Dear Gracious God,

Thank you for the gift of our grandparents, our parents

who have guided us in our spiritual journey.

Help us honor them for the servant life they lived

by the different ways we serve today.

Thank you for the gift of grace and the servants

of the past who demonstrated how to give grace.

Help us use grace, too, to meet the needs of others

whether hungry, unclothed, unsheltered, or more.

Thank you for the skills and the means to serve

one another in love whether here or around the world.

Help us to serve and to share our blessings with others in need

so they may become disciples of Christ

for the transformation of the world.         –Amen

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What would a day without God be like?

given on Sunday, August 11, 2013 

Scripture reference:  Psalm 118

A Day without God?

         These cooler, rainy summer days are a farmer’s dream come true and I am thankful for that; but for me, now a city dweller, I do not rally well for these days.  Therefore, when I knew I had a window of opportunity for a trip to Powell Garden on Wednesday, I took it—along with my granddaughter and her mom.

The sun came out, the humidity shot up, and off we went.  The enthusiasm that Aidan had for the visit was contagious despite the humidity.  She took off and found the Lego sculptures much to her delight.  But to my delight, she also remembered the visit from last year. And I also took delight that her mom remembered the visit the summer after she was born and where we took pictures then.

But, all of these special moments were overpowered when we stepped into the butterfly displays!  The squeals of delight from both of them and, yes, me too, were pure music to the ears.  The flowers were full of butterflies.  The colors, the aromas, the flights of the butterflies, the closeness to them made the day God-filled.

Then I began to wonder at how many might miss such a day if they did not have God in their lives.  The question developed:  What would a day without God be like?  The words that surfaced in my head echoed—“This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Ironically I learned that because Rev. Longstreth began every service with that proclamation, and I have used it repeatedly, too.

How could anybody not rejoice in a day like mine?  How come I see it as one to glad in while others do nothing but complain, whine, grumble and even worse?  There the question was again:  What would a day without God be like?

Finding that answer is really easy if you watch the news and see it through human eyes.  Our lives are filled with so much negative stuff that it is easy to understand why people give up, turn away from God and strike out against others.

The daily news lists infractions of the Ten Commandments constantly.  I hate to think how many shootings there were this week.  There was envy of another’s wife resulting in the burning of a home, killing, and abduction in California.  The scare tactics of the Taliban froze up many in African and the Saudi Peninsula area.  Add in all the natural disasters that Americans faced during the week—fires and floods.

Sadly it is too easy to find the negative in life rather than the positives.  I think that seeing the negative first is seeing the world without God in it.  Do you agree?  What would it be like if we did not have God in our lives?

Waking up in the morning without God would be like looking through the morning fog seeing only the fog, not the way it dances and moves in the breeze.  Looking at the morning without God is seeing the bags of trash still lining the street’s curb, and not trusting the workers to fill their mission of picking it up.

That is one of the special gifts I witnessed this summer.  The trash truck roars up early, sometimes about 6:30 am, and announces that it is taking care of my trash.  Whew!  That is a gift of service if ever there is one, but this summer I witnessed something special about these workers.

Our neighbors typically put their trash out at night, but they leave it by the garage door, not on the curb.  One of the reasons is their physical health and moving the trash bin is tough.  But to the glory of God, I now know that the trash haulers are serving as God’s hands for my neighbors.  He jumps off the back of the truck and runs down the driveway, grabs the trash barrel, runs it back up the driveway, dumps it and runs it back to the original spot, even bending down to retrieve the lid and secure it.  Not once does he do this, but he does it each and every Thursday morning.

I wonder if he sees his service as his purpose in life?  I wonder if he has any idea that he is the arms and the legs of God for this couple?  I wonder if he knows that a prayer of thanks goes up each time I see his work on these mornings.  I certainly see God in him.

But back to the day without God:  What would it really be like?  Think about all the restaurants that open up for the morning rush.  What if the servers were not seeing a purpose in their roles?  What if the cooks did not know that their care in preparing the meals did not matter?  What if they decided to cave in to a little prodding by the devil?

Mornings set your tone for the day, and if those who greet you are surly and grumpy, they have the potential of destroying your own outlook for the day.  Those who sit down for a morning cup of coffee at the local diner or even at their own breakfast table look for the gifts or that first sip of coffee—or tea.  God is there in the very choice of our morning drinks, in the foods that we eat, and in the hands and faces of those serving the food.

BJ sent an email story out this week that reminds me that even in the rush of a fast food breakfast, lunch, or supper, God is there.  The story of how a woman decided to pay it forward simply warmed my heart.  Not only was it a reminder that the workers prepared the meals, but it is the customer who sometimes reaches out to share God’s love—and care—to those who struggle to live despite the poverty that traps them.

The story shared that while in a busy line at a local McDonald’s the crowd suddenly quieted and stepped back to give space to these two apparently homeless individuals seeking to find enough change in their pockets to buy just a simple cup of coffee so they could step inside and warm up.

The woman, even with her family stepping back, stayed in her spot and saw God’s children in need.  She was looking at the world through God’s eyes and knew these men’s story without asking a word.  She simply stepped up to the counter, placed her order, and added two more breakfast platters for the men.

The story shares how living in a world with God can make a difference.  For those living in a world without God, stepping back and avoiding the problem was the answer.  To the glory of God, though, the woman, with her entire family witnessing her actions, acted as a savior to these men.  She witnessed her faith right there in McD’s for the glory of God.

What would the story have been had she, too, stepped back?  What would the story of God be if the trash man failed to pick up the trash? What would the world be without God?  What would your life be without God?

Psalm 118 draws a picture of life in God’s world.   Verse 8 & 9 state:

It is better take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in princes.

That is difficult to do because we know that God asked us to be his hands and feet here on earth.  We are to serve, not just in 2013 but throughout our lives, one another in love.  Whatever we do, we do to for the glory of God.

We must fulfill the role of God’s servant to the very best of our ability.  We have lives in which God is evident and others know this about us; but if we do not serve one another in love, what will happen?

I really do not think it is hard to see what will happen because it is being videotaped and shared all over the world.  Maybe it is time for the tech savvy to videotape the world through God’s eyes and share it.  For those of us who are not tech savvy, we must learn how best we can share God’s story.

Maybe it is a phone call to someone you know.  Maybe it is carrying a sack of clothes to he Salvation Army or Goodwill or another similar agency.  Maybe the years of doing are challenging today, so God acts in other ways—contributions, phone calls, written messages, and the list grows.

The key, though, is to wake up each morning and know that it is a day that God has made.  Accept the day joyfully, and be glad in it.  You have a story to tell, tell it.  You have a card to mail, mail it.  You have a song to sing, sing it.  You witness God’s love in action, thank the giver and thank God because all of it is done to the glory of God.

Dear Loving Father,

Thank you for the beauty of the day,

for the butterflies, the rain, and the sun.

Thank you for the work of the trash men,

the cooks and the servers.

Thank you for the eyes to see all the God-actions

in all the workers in our world.

Thank you for the gifts you give us

in all the different ways that you do,

for all of your children.

Guide us in seeing the world through your eyes.

Guide us in serving as your hands and feet.

Guide us in rejoicing in your world.

Guide us in loving one another

so they, too, may see the power of your love.           –Amen

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Missouri Annual Conference Review

AC report 2013

This attached Power Point is today’s service.  Our lay delegate prepared and presented the service and summarized the conference experience while using a full-fledged program including scripture and music.  This is a first for the smaller churches in my appointment.  Thanks for the effort.

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