I think "serving" can raise some interesting thoughts. What is your first thought about "serving"? Do you think serving "size" and how big servings, when eating out, have gotten? Do you think "serving" as in our military? Or, like most Caregivers, do we answer with the person(s) we are caring for? Depending on who was asking I either answered with "four small churches" or "my Dad."
No matter how we answered - churches, loved one(s), or other care receiver - we can agree with Jesus, in this morning's readings (Mark 10:42-45) "to served not to be served." Yes, verse 45 is about Jesus serving "others" and giving "his life as a ransom for many." We, as Caregivers, understand about serving others and how they come first.
The question(s) I have, for you this morning are from our Old Testament reading 1 Kings 12:6-8. David, and Solomon have died. Rehoboam is now King and is following Solomon in the job. He is consulting with Solomon's "elders" and asking for advice -- which he then ignores. Rehoboam continues to go the way he wants to go, doing what he wants to do which causes more problems. My question(s) to you is are you even asking for advice, and/or seeking help? IF you are asking, are you following said advice?
As we are serving, following where God is leading, facing our "giants" we can KNOW God IS with us because God keeps God's promises. Can we take these things to God? Yes! Do we listen to what God, maybe through others, is saying? Do we follow where God is leading?
It is time for harvesting - finally. Yesterday, while I was driving, I was watching a number of farmers in their fields - some corn but mainly soybeans. I could tell some of the beets had also been harvested. Only a very few fields were 'finished' with harvesting. There are still a LOT of fields to go! Harvesting, in the fields, is what we immediately think of isn't it? What about the rest of us, that aren't farmers, what are we harvesting?
Our readings, this morning, are in Ruth 2 and Mark 4. Ruth is gleaning the field for food for herself and Naomi. (v. 21-23) Jesus is talking about the farmer planting seeds, waiting and harvesting. (v. 26-29) In both places the harvest is still in the field(s).
I am not a farmer, related to a farmer or a gardener. The seeds I plant are not in "dirt" but I'm thinking we ALL plant this kind of seed -- farmer and non-farmer alike. These seeds are the attitudes we have, the gifts we share, the way we are and what people see of us. These seeds are the kindness, generosity, knowledge and, especially sharing God's Love. These seeds are the care of the "stranger" (from last week) and our "neighbor." These seeds are the how we care for the "widow, the orphan and the stranger in our land." These are seeds each of us plants, even if we don't farm or garden, and the harvest is seen by others.
So.... what are you harvesting? IF you are in the "fields" we are all praying for a safe harvest. If, like me, you aren't in the fields are you harvesting what you planted? Can you change the "seeds" so the harvest has a better outcome? Are these seeds the ones God has laid on your heart to be doing? Is this the "giant" God is helping you face?
What thought goes through your mind when you think "stranger"? Is it the "Stranger. Danger!!" from Kindergarten Cop? Or the way we try to help our children understand NOT to talk to 'strangers'? Then again we could wonder who is the "stranger" -- the new person in the community? Maybe the "stranger" is someone who thinks, or looks, differently from us? It is definitely something to think about!
Our Scripture reading, today, is Ruth 1:1-17. First Naomi is the stranger in a hostile (read about the way the Hebrew people felt about Moab) country but her sons marry Moabite women. Then, after all three women are widows, they start back to Bethlehem. One daughter-in-law returns to "her mother's house" but Ruth decides to follow Naomi "for where you go, I will go,....your God will be my God" (v. 16).
Then Jesus tells us, in the Gospel reading (Mark 3:33-35), "whoever does the will of God" in answer to a question about his (Jesus') mother, brother and sister. Jesus also points out, in Luke 10, who the 'neighbor' is - the one who stops to help - in sharing about "loving neighbor as ourselves." Taking care of the stranger, even helping the stranger, is how we do God's will "loving neighbor" so others can see and follow "your God will be my God." (Ruth 1:16)
So...... where are we? Are we trying to show 'love' to the stranger? Are we listening to the stranger even if they come from a different point of view let alone country? Can we TRY the "new thing," as caregivers, to help - someone else or "our" care person? Even if it seems/feels strange can we show God's love?
What is it that gets you excited? What gives you the "what IF" desire to try something? What is your response to it? Do you actually try it? Or do you sit back and think "someone else will do it? Maybe it is something you would/could do 'when you got the time' but you have never really gotten the time. The problem is the idea isn't going away either....... So..... what do you do?
Our Scripture reading, this morning, is Exodus 3:1-5 where Moses sees the burning bush and goes to check it out. The Lord calls Moses, by name, and Moses responds "Here I am." (3:4) I wonder how many of us immediately think of Charlton Heston? Strong, white haired, carrying a shepherd's staff - going up the mountain to investigate - is the image popping into our heads. After all, in verse 4, Moses answers here I am. He even takes off his sandals, because he realizes he IS on "holy ground" (3:5). Is this our response to what God is laying on our hearts? "Here I am, send me?"
I would like to change our image. I would like us to think of Don Knotts, and "Shakiest Gun," instead. If you read the rest of Exodus 3 and most of 4 you see Moses giving excuses (sorry! reasons!!), asking questions and generally trying to at least delay, if not stop, what God is asking for. This is more like our response don't you think? The "laugh" we spoke of a couple of weeks ago? The "say what???!" Our list of excuses (sorry again! reasons!) can get pretty long and detailed also.
"What IF" we changed our answer? "What IF" we actually stepped out in faith? "What IF" we actually tried, and DID something about the 'thing' we are most passionate about? "What IF" we could actually make a difference? Interesting thought....... Take the step, follow where God IS leading, even if it is a "new" thing!