DAY 125: Sunday 30 August
Good morning everyone
In our society there is often conflict between ‘status’ and ‘servant’. To be a servant implies assuming a lower status in society although that view can vary in different cultures and traditions. I remember back in the 1980’s and ‘90’s when I used to spend much of my business-time in Europe, how I was intrigued with the attitude of waiters and waitresses in cafes and restaurants across France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere. In those cultures, being able to serve people seemed to be a matter of great pride and esteem for those people and not just a job that you do until you can find something better. That attitude seemed to pervade regardless of the quality of the establishment – you would expect highest standards of courtesy and service in a posh restaurant but this seemed to be exactly the same in modest corner cafes and bars. To be able to serve others always seemed to be a privilege and not a chore and the local population would often regard these ‘servants’ as special and treat them with great respect.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday mornings a total of 12 individuals from the Chapel spent a lot of time dusting, cleaning, painting and polishing and I saw several on their knees for what seemed like a considerable time – they were wiping and scrubbing floors and not in fervent prayer! But their willingness to give of their time and being prepared to get down to some ‘dirty work’ was all done in a spirit of ‘willing and loving service’ for our church and ultimately to give glory to God.
And of course there are many others in our church fellowship who have served tirelessly over the past 24 weeks in checking on those who were shielding and self-isolating and those who became hospitalised for various reasons in this period through phoning, sending cards and flowers, doing shopping and other errands. The closing song in today’s virtual service is ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’, and that has certainly been demonstrated in many practical ways over the past months.
But all of that is but a pale reflection of the example given by our Lord Jesus the night he was about to be betrayed by one of his own disciples. In human terms, Jesus had every right to demand to be the centre of their attention imposing his authority and status - after all, he was their Rabbi and the promised Messiah.
But instead, he humbled himself by wrapping a towel around himself and became the lowest grade foot-washing servant. What an example to us all, especially when are inclined to believe we deserve all the attention because of who we are; or people’s sympathy because of our suffering or circumstances.
Philippians 2:5-8 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself further by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Today’s virtual video service features our dear friend and Chapel member John Harrison who originally brought this message to us back in January 2019. The disciple Simon Peter shared with young Mark his memories of the three years he had spent following and witnessing the life and ministry of Jesus. The Gospel of Mark is sometimes referred to as the Gospel of Jesus, the Suffering Servant.
The video service lasts 58 minutes and includes 3 songs plus a couple of short videos from Open Doors by two women from countries where Christians suffer persecution >>> https://falconlodgechapel.sermon.net/21651399
We have spoken with a number of Chapel members about our thoughts for reopening. Karen is still working through the list of people to call although it’s taking longer than she anticipated because you all want to chat, and especially those of you who live alone and have not been able to get out until recently. But it’s lovely to have those conversations with you.
We are continually comparing advice from various sources including FIEC, Evangelical Alliance, Church of England and national and local government regarding the safe strategy when we reopen the doors and we think we are almost ready to start with limited Sunday gatherings from 20 September.
Of course, that will be dependent on the constantly changing coronavirus situation in this area and obviously if there were a spike in local infections, then our plans would have to change.
Initially, such gatherings would be very different from what we have always been used to, including greater physical distancing of seating, a requirement to pre-book seats as numbers will need to be restricted, and service content will be different, at least for the first few weeks or until national restrictions are eased. Whilst we won’t be able to give handshakes or hugs or have close-up conversations, it will be good to see one another again and be able to share in worshipping our God.
We do recognise that some of you are nervous and reluctant about coming back at this moment and we will endeavour to keep everyone updated as the situation evolves and changes.
We will release more details about the gatherings over the next couple of weeks.
1 Chris Jones
9 David Green
13 Joy Phillips
17 Ciaran Thompson
27 Lynne Ridge
30 Alan Armstrong
MAKE YOU THINK: (thanks to Linda Lord)
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the lady who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke? I had seen the cleaning lady several times: she was tall, dark-haired and probably in her 50’s, but why would I know her name?
I handed in my paper but leaving the last question blank. Just before the class ended, one student asked if the last question counted towards our quiz grade. ‘Absolutely’ said the professor. ‘In your careers you will meet many people. Every person is significant and deserves your attention and appreciation even if all you do is smile and say hello’.
I never forgot that lesson. I also learned the lady’s name was Dorothy.
More on Wednesday