Tag Archives: Service

Who’s on first?

It has to be one of the greatest comedic routines of all time. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello first performed it on a radio show, The Kate Smith Hour, in March 1938. Over the years, they would delight audiences with the famous descriptions of a baseball team: “Who’s on first?”

The rotund Costello would appear to be increasingly frustrated with his cool, calm partner as Abbott tried to explain the names of all the players. It was brilliant, funny theater.

In Mark 10, Jesus had to participate in a very different “Who’s on first?” dialogue. The author recorded that two of the disciples (who also were cousins of Jesus) approached Him and ask for special favor. In Matthew’s account, the mother of James and John (who was the sister of the mother of Jesus) made the same ask. “When You sit on Your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to You, one on Your right and the other on Your left” (v. 37).

Costello acted like he was frustrated in his act; Jesus didn’t have to act. He told the two, “You don’t know what you are asking!” The Lord had just announced for the third time that He would journey to Jerusalem to die. Did they not hear Him? As soon as Jesus made the statement, James and John requested privileged status. Insensitive, clueless?

In His response to their thoughtless question, Jesus explained a new order in His Kingdom: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slaves of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many” (vs. 43-45).

Humility was considered a vice, a sign of weakness until Jesus came. Read again Philippians 2:5-11, the ancient Christian hymn that describes the true power of love through humility and obedience. Revisit the scene in the Upper Room when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples (see John 13).

The Bible tells us that the other disciples were indignant when they heard what James and John did. Were they mad because they didn’t think of it first? They all seemed to be tone deaf at this point, but perhaps we should consider the price of pride in our own lives. According to Jesus, trying to be first might be the fastest way to the back of the line!

Grateful

Sacrifice – a sacred act, an offering at great cost to the giver; giving up something of value to benefit another.

Jesus told His disciples: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Sometimes “laying down your life” is the ultimate sacrifice. We honor such acts on Memorial Day. For too many this weekend, this is a time of grief and sadness. For all of us, this is time of gratitude and appreciation.

Sometimes “laying down your life” doesn’t mean dying; it means living. Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in November of 1861. In her original version, the third verse has a line that reads: “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” During World War II, Fred Waring changed the line to “let us live to make men free.”

I believe we are called to lay down our lives every day. There is a solemn dignity in watching someone live for something other than self-satisfaction and personal gain. There is joy in seeing people put others before themselves. There is inspiration in knowing that humility is a virtue to be exalted.

The writer of Hebrews urged us: “With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name. Don’t forget to do good and to share with others in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God” (13:15,16). Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave Himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to Him” (5:2).

Lord, may we please You with the fragrance of our living sacrifice!

You Matter

Name the twelve disciples. No googling. Perhaps you start off strong – Peter, James, John, Thomas, Andrew, Judas … no, take Judas off since he betrayed Christ …

Having witnessed a few minutes of the red-carpet celebrity strut of the Academy Awards, it still amazes me who seems to matter and what some people will actually wear in public. There will always be headliners who get more than their share of attention, but what happens to the stars if the “little people” don’t do their jobs?

You may not know the full list of the disciples, but Jesus did. He called each of them. They mattered. One of the wonderful things about belonging to Him is that each of us matters. He doesn’t love some of us more than He loves all of us.

I love the passage in Isaiah 43 – “I have called you by name; you are Mine.” He calls each of us. We all matter.

Some people live out their calling without much fanfare. The spotlight doesn’t fall on them. They are like the guy who was escorting some starlet to a movie premiere. The media was pushing and shoving to get a picture or an interview, the fans were frantic to see who was in the next limo. This guy steps out and a reporter with microphone and big hair yells to him, “Are you anybody?”

Look around. You will see the called serving at church. A few examples:

  • Currently, Adele Cleveland, Laura Rogers, Wyona Stephens, and Ted Wood have been serving as counters. When the offerings are given, someone has to handle the money with dedication and confidentiality. Carolyn Watford, our Financial Controller, works with them to accurately separate and record our gifts. In effect, they are stewards of our stewardship. Many people have served through the years without much notice in this important role. On behalf of our congregation, I express deep appreciation for their labor of love. Each of them matters.
  • We have a team of people who work with sound and lighting for worship and other activities. Alan Keel, Julie Hunter, Davis Scoles, Will McCollum, Joe Hughes, Kevin McDonald, Tony Petrucelli, and Dean Matthews serve on our tech team. They might get noticed when we have sound issues, but working those boards is anything but easy. I am grateful for the time, focus, interest, and expertise they bring to the task.
  • There are many others that we will mention going forward. Each matters to the ministry of Wieuca!

Jesus call us all. The way we employ our time, talent, and treasure illustrates our response. You matter!

Memorial Day

Jemima Warner accompanied her husband on a military mission in 1775. He was a soldier with the Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. While on the way to Quebec, her husband died from pneumonia. She stayed with his unit, serving as the battalion cook. During the siege, she was killed by an enemy bullet. She wasn’t officially a member of the military but she has been recognized by The Women in Military Service Foundation as the first American woman to die in action.

On May 20, 1917, nurses Edith Ayres and Helen Wood were sitting on the deck of the USS Mongolia during a live fire drill. The ship, carrying troops and equipment to France, also had a contingent of nurses on board. The nurses were desperately needed as the US became more engaged in World War I. During the drill, a gun misfired, spraying the women with shrapnel. The two nurses died of their wounds. They were the first to die in the line of duty. More than a thousand women have followed – nurses, Marines, soldiers, sailors, pilots.

Today is Memorial Day. For many families in our country, it is a day of grief and mourning. The high human toll due to warfare not only costs fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons but also mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. We cannot glorify war, but we can honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives.

Today we remember.

 

Along the Journey – Through the Eyes of a Child

downloadHave you ever noticed how often Jesus had children around Him? They wanted to touch Him, be near Him, and listen to Him. Even when His well-meaning disciples tried to keep them away, Jesus rebuked the adults and welcomed the kids.

Children should feel safe like Nora did when she wrote: “Dear God, I don’t feel alone since I found out about You.”

Children should feel hopeful and be honest like Frank who wrote: “Dear God, I’m doing the best I can.

A church can be void of life, energy, and, yes, noise without children. This summer, the sounds and sights of kids taking part in Vacation Bible School, Camp Wieuca, Day School, Sunday School, Family Life, and other activities illustrate how necessary our kids are to a healthy, growing fellowship.

Under the direction of Matt Sapp, Aimee Yeager, and Bryan Franklin alongside a great group of volunteers, our children’s ministry is making great strides forward. Good things are happening and I am proud of efforts like the painting project in Discovery Pointe Sunday afternoon where about 25 adults and children put a fresh coat (mostly on the walls)!

Even at my advanced age, I still remember the men and women who cared for me, taught me, and served as role models for me at church. I can still recall the names of those who worked in the nursery or taught me Sunday School, Missions, or Training Union. I even remember the woman who would sit behind us in worship and pop us on the ear if we moved or spoke at the wrong time.

We have wonderful volunteers at Wieuca, but we need more.  We need nursery workers, teachers in ages 2-3 and grades 3-5; we need Extended Session and nursery volunteers for the worship hour. Please contact Aimee and tell her you will serve: ayeager@wieuca.org.

You’ll learn a lot hanging around kids. One of my favorite stories: 3rd grade Sunday School teacher leaning over Johnny’s shoulder while he is intently working on a drawing, “What are you drawing, Johnny?” Too busy to look up, he responds: “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Wise teacher gently remarks, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Still working too hard to look up, he says, “They will when I finish this picture.”

Once a Month, I Will Serve

Wieuca-Covenant Groups Logo

” Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Our culture teaches us that healthy levels of ambition and selfishness, pride and conceit, are necessary for success in this world. We are bombarded with messages that tell us it is impossible to be too ambitious or too invested in our own personal advancement. Humility is viewed as weakness and concern for others an unnecessary shackle in a society where only the strong survive. Self-reliance, independence and personal responsibility are cherished virtues that all too often become vicious weapons when used against the downtrodden and less fortunate.

There are few areas where the message of the Bible more directly contradicts the values of our culture than in the effort to balance concern for self with concern for others. Philippians 2:3-4 captures this balance perfectly.  We are  to look after our own interests, of course; but more importantly, we are called to look after the interests of others.  The world persistently preaches an ethic of selfishness. The Bible consistently teaches an ethic of selflessness. We are to place the needs of others ahead of our own needs and as Paul writes to the Christians in Philippi count others more significant than ourselves. If Christ modeled anything for us during his life on earth, it was an ethic of selflessness and humility (Philippians 2:6-8).

The third commitment of our CovenantGroup agreements is to find an opportunity to serve within our church once a month. When you serve on a committee, join a ministry team, read to our children at the Day School, volunteer at an After School event, or work at Vacation Bible School you are demonstrating your willingness to put the needs of others ahead of your own needs; you are counting others more significant than yourself.

Serving the church involves self-sacrifice. Sometimes service involves being at church when you’d rather be someplace else. Sometimes service involves enriching the lives of others when your time could be spent profitably on yourself. Sometimes service involves hard work for little recognition or reward. But service always involves following the example of Christ. So remember your covenant commitment to serve. If you don’t already have an outlet for service, consider joining a ministry team. You can find ministry team opportunities through your CovenantGroups. Each time you serve, you allow yourself to be conformed to the image of Christ. And I can’t think of anything more in our own self-interest than that.