Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Incarnation and Presence (Isaiah 43:1-3)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Thursday, 6 April 2017

Week 6: Freed to Serve—Diakonia 

Week 6, Day 5

“The Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity,”  The Book of Common Prayer

O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake our Lord. Amen

Incarnation and Presence (Isaiah 43:1-3)

Cynthia Haynes-Turner, Anglican, Canada

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

Service and servant ministry—words we frequently use in church, frequently enough that there is a danger that they lose their power. When Jesus told his disciples that he came not to be served but to serve and that they were to do the same, it was shocking to them—their teacher, rabbi, healer and friend assuming such a lowly position! While we may not have the same power structures today, we do have hierarchical structures based on economic, political, social or celebrity status. The idea of service and servanthood goes against societal norms and is still revolutionary.

A young woman I know, who works in health care, once told me that it never bothered her to attend to the physical needs of sick or elderly bed-ridden people as it brought them both relief and comfort. While she is paid for her work, what makes this real service is the spirit in which she cares for the patients—it is what she has to offer. Those being served feel cared for and respected.

When we serve, we are faced with temptations not unlike those Jesus faced, and resisted, at the beginning of his ministry—we can be lured by the position of power it gives us over another, by the desire to be a miracle worker and make everything right. At times, we can even be irritated if the person served does not appear to be grateful enough or does not say thank you. That, however, is the antithesis of service.

Jesus chose to offer himself in response to the individual person or situation, without concern for whether they were clean or unclean, Samaritan or Jew, man or woman. Often what he did restored their dignity or value as human beings.

Through God’s grace, we are freed to serve without expectations, in acts freely given.

We serve to engage the best part of ourselves, the spirit of Christ within. We are not bestowing a gift, with or without strings attached. We are offering ourselves in service to God, through serving those whom God created.

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”