April 24th 2016
Introduction: The water basin and the towel are fitting symbols for God’s people to look to for vision and to help define the expectations of our lives together. We are talking about church renewal and have been working on defining what it looks like for us as God’s people in the world today. Last fall we had what we called a “Positivity Sunday.” What is going right and working well for us here at York First. There was a series of sermons dealing with our theme text for this emphasis in renewal dealing with the “Story of the Prodigal Son” as found in Luke 15:11-32. Then in February of this year we talked about “spiritual appreciation.” Those things and people in the life of the church that have inspired and challenged our spiritual growth as individuals and as a congregation. Now we are looking at the call of God on our lives to live as Godly examples of servant leadership. We have been talking about the 10 characteristics of a servant leader, as set forth in David Young’s book, “Springs of Living Water. So far we have talked about what it means to be “called and strengthened” by God for task of serving others. How we are to be “spiritually centered” in our Lord and Savior, Jesus. We are to “listen” to God and to our sisters and brothers to discern God’s leading and direction. And that we will be known by the “manner of love.” This is a different kind of love than the world outside of Christ and his church knows and understands.
David Young says in his book, Springs of Living Water; “The water basin and towel are symbols of servant leadership that arise from Jesus’ service to his disciples in the upper room. The basin and towel speak not only of service, but also of the very heart of spiritual formation. In the act of foot washing, people have their feet washed as a symbol of cleansing and renewal of their baptism and go as refreshed vessels of God to wash the feet of others.”
Our text from John 13 for today is the beginning of Jesus’ final hours and ministry here on earth in the flesh. The path to the cross has been set in motion and the time is growing short. Jesus meets with those closest to him to impart to them his final teachings and instructions. He is fulfilling his vision and sharing with them his expectations of who they will be to carry on the work that he has started. He models for them and us the role of redemptive love, of servant leadership. In effect, God reaching out to lost humanity.
We are told to “Love God with our total being and to love one another.” This is at the heart of who we are. This is one of our core values if not the core value of what it means to be the people of God, the church. This is what sets the Christian movement apart from every other organization in the world!
In our baptismal vows we answer these three questions:
“ Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son and do you receive and trust him as your Savior and Lord? Will you turn away from all sin and will you endeavor by God’s grace to live according to the example and teachings of Jesus? Will you be loyal to the church, upholding it by your prayers and your presence, your substance and your service?”
From the moment we accept Jesus into our hearts, and lives, we begin a journey with many ups and more than a few downs as well that ultimately leads us towards eternity in his presence. We begin a journey, not one in which we are perfect, but one of being perfected. We struggle to live out our baptismal vows each and every day. Many times we ignore them all together, and other times we fulfill them above and beyond what is being asked of us. With the presence of the Holy Spirit, that part of God which resides within us, we are able to pick ourselves up when we fail and come up short, and dust ourselves off, and to celebrate the times when we do succeed in fulfilling the vision and expectations we have for ourselves and for the community of faith, the church. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Mission and expectations this morning.
Ex. Isaiah 42:1 says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.” And again in Isaiah 49:5, we read, “The Lord has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.”
A.) When we put Jesus in his proper place in our lives, when we set ourselves on the right path, the path of justice for all, then we are bringing glory and honor to our God.
1. We need the Holy Spirit to open our “ears” so we can hear, and yes, open our eyes too, to see and hear the needs for justice in our world.
2. The kind of justice that God calls us to produce through our lives lived for his kingdom of righteousness and justice.
3. There is a greater need to see the big picture than we realize in the area of renewal.
4. It is not just about us, it is about being faithful to the calling we have.
5. It is about fulfilling the call of justice.
6. We must see our strengths as individuals and as a church, then set about using those strengths to meet the needs of the world around us.
Ex. Today we are going to hear from Judy Deitch about the CAS campaign to do just this kind of work through us and in Jesus name, right here in the greater south central PA. Area.
Conclusion to point #1: Having a clear vision and the ability to see things as they really are, brings us to the place of justice in every aspect of our journey of faith. We are God’s anointed because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and his Spirit dwelling within us, gives us a sense of urgency and the power to fulfill our calling and mission.
II.) Paradoxical Expectation
Ex. Isaiah 53:2 says; “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”
A.) Servant leaders, at first glance, may seem to be the least likely people to anything of any significance in life, and yet…
1. It is these very same people that God has chosen to use to bring about his purpose and mission in the world.
2. It is these same people who see the real needs of our world and seek to find ways to help and make things right and just.
3. It is these same people, who with very little resource and strength are able to change the very course of history itself!
4. It is you and it is me, used of God for the building of his kingdom here on earth.
5. Bringing about peace and justice, hope and joy, love and purity.
B.) I believe one our biggest problems is self-esteem, that is we don’t have the confidence that we can make a difference.
1. I firmly believe that anyone who yields their lives to Jesus Christ and seeks to be faithful to his calling for them will accomplish great things for the kingdom of God!
2. Those whom God has called, and we are all called, God has also empowered or gifted for the work we are called.
3. Do we believe and trust God to see us through what we are called to do?
4. We have an awesome God and we have gifts beyond our understanding even in this place today.
5. Gifts that will build up the body of Christ as well as serve as a blessing to our community and beyond.
Conclusion to message: We have a mission to faithfully serve God and each other with a love that is greater than any power this world has ever or will ever know. We are called to the mission of sharing that love with all of creation. With every creature on the face of planet earth and beyond. We have got to open our eyes and ears both physically and spiritually so we can see and hear all that God has for us.
The expectations are high for the body of Christ to fulfill all that God has for us to do. Being a servant leader is not an easy task and yet it is the very thing we said when we were baptized that we were willing to do. I think from time to time we ought to be asked these questions again. And then answer them again and perhaps even be baptized again. There is another symbol that is just as powerful for us and I think can help us in the same way baptism does. That is anointing. If you are willing this morning to re-dedicate your life to Jesus Christ and his church, which means being willing to serve the cause of kingdom building. Of being a servant leader, then you are invited to respond by coming for and being anointed as sign of renewal and strengthen of your faith.