Strong and Courageous: SundayServe

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 3:31-35

This Sunday the churches within the East Central District of the Florida Conference of The UMC will be set loose on our local communities to engage in acts of service for our neighbors through an event entitled SundayServe.  The Reeves congregation will meet for a brief service of worship at 10am and then we will be dismissed to our service opportunities.

  • Some will spend their morning through early afternoon packing food with Stop Hunger Now.
  • Others will be leading hymn-sings at local retirement and nursing homes.
  • Others will be picking up trash and recycling along motorways and shorelines
  • Others will be cleaning and sprucing up partnering non-profit facilities
  • And these are just a few of the options!

Reeves celebrates that folks from around our local neighborhood – including a neighboring UMC about 5 miles away – as well as the partnering organizations that use the Reeves facility throughout the month will join our members this coming Saturday to complete the exterior painting of our property and begin painting the interior walls.  This is such a gift to the Reeves congregation – because trust me – we have LOTS of walls to paint.

My heart is warmed by the idea of SundayServe because participating in it brings the people called Methodist back to our roots – and even more than that – it brings the people called Christian back to our roots.

(1) The Early Methodists were always where the people were – and trust me – that wasn’t every often in a church structure.  It was in the fields, the streets, the prisons, the hospitals, the horse stalls, and more than likely a couple of joints where someone could partake in a festive adult beverage.  Meeting the people where they were led to the explosion of the Methodist movement.  That ministers and lay leaders in the church went directly to the people first met a physical need so they could then address spiritual needs.

Now this physical need doesn’t mean that they always brought something to the people they sought…I doubt a “new friend coffee mug” was given at the end of their meeting.  The physical need that was met was the desire to be included, the confirmation that as they were presently was all that was required to be included, to join.

And isn’t that what we all still crave today?  Yet…we seem so comfortable in our pews.  I would venture to say that we have felt included – that we felt we were and are enough to join the assembly in which we find ourselves today…so why don’t we more readily share that confirmation and invitation with others?

(2) In the Scripture passage for this week Jesus is seated among a mixed crowd.  He alerted that his brother and mother have arrived and want to speak with him.  Now if I were Jesus my gut reaction would be to politely excuse myself from the group to attend to my family.  But Jesus’ response is the opposite of that – just another example of Jesus being Lord in a Kingdom that is upsidedown from what we would expect.

Jesus asks, “Who is my family?  My mother?  My brother?  Who are my kin?”  These aren’t rhetorical questions and he quickly provides the answer.  Jesus looks at the crowd around him and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, and mother” (Mk 3:35).

And what is the will of God?

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

(pause so that can resonate)

This Sunday the people of Reeves will have the opportunity to serve our neighbors as if we are serving Jesus.  It will be a humbling day, but also a day of great proclamation – that we are true to our Methodist roots, that we are true to our Christian heritage and will boldly live its legacy, and by taking the servant’s towel and wrapping it around our waists, we tell our neighbors – our family – that they are worthy and are welcome with us.

Prayer: “The voice of God is calling it summons in our day; Isaiah heard in Zion, and we now hear God say: ‘Whom shall I send to succor my people in their need?  Whom shall I send to loosen the bonds of shame and greed?’ ‘I hear my people crying in slum and mine and mill; no field or mart is silent, no city street is still. I see my people falling in darkness and despair. Whom shall I send to shatter the fetters which they bear?’ 3. We heed, O Lord, your summons, and answer: Here are we! Send us upon your errand, let us your servants be. Our strength is dust and ashes, our years a passing hour; but you can use our weakness to magnify your power.”* Amen.

*”The Voice of God is Calling” from The United Methodist Hymnal, 436.

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