Served to Serve
Clement of Rome, Pastor
23 November 2018
The congregation at which I am the pastor prepares and serves a Thanksgiving Day dinner to the homeless and other disadvantaged persons in our community every year. It is a lot of work to prepare food and other gift items for hundreds of people. The labor is always made a joy when we see how deeply this effort is appreciated. Our teen members are especially benefited when they serve, because they learn about the needs of others. One year, the teens noticed that one of our guests had taken his plate of food and placed the food in a plastic shopping bag before returning for a second plate of food. They were baffled by this and wondered if they should give another plate of food to him, thinking he was "gaming the system" in some way. I explained to them that this homeless person was thinking of the next day's meal when he stored the food given to him. That changed their perspective entirely for them. They had never known deprivation or hunger. This man had. They joyously served up another heaping plate of Thanksgiving provisions to him.
 
What joy there is in seeing to the neighbor's need! How fulfilling it is to serve our neighbor. Many Christians are experiencing that joy in the midst of the need created by the natural disasters in Florida and California that have come upon us in these days. Christians do these good works not because they are compelled to do so by God's threatening, but by faith which causes them to act spontaneously. The neighbor's need compels them. We want to advance our neighbor's good and help him to improve and protect his property and possessions.
 
This service never needs to be coerced from the faithful. We give away us and ours knowing that we have a rich Lord from whom much more is returned to us. Just think of what He has offered us in Christ through His suffering, death and resurrection and that He gives us the benefits of the work of Christ every day through the Word and on the Lord's Day through the Lord's Supper. What joy it gives our rich Lord to enrich us poor. We are being Christ-like in service to our neighbor, because our Lord has served us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Let the [seventh] commandment not be understood too narrowly. But let it apply to everything that has to do with our neighbors. Briefly, in summary (as in the former commandments) this is what is forbidden: (a) To do our neighbor any injury or wrong (in any conceivable manner, by impeding, hindering, and withholding his possessions and property), or even to consent or allow such injury. (b) It is commanded that we advance and improve his possessions. When they suffer lack, we should help, share, and lend both to friends and foes (Mt 5:42).
 
"Whoever now seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough to do that are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God. In addition, they are favored and crowned with excellent blessings. So we are to be richly compensated for all that we do for our neighbor's good and from friendship. King Solomon also teaches this in Proverbs 19, 'Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed' (Pro 19:7). Here, then, you have a rich Lord. He is certainly enough for you. He will not allow you to come up short in anything or to lack (Ps 37:25). So you can with a joyful conscience enjoy a hundred times more than you could scrape together with unfaithfulness and wrong. Now, whoever does not desire this blessing will find enough wrath and misfortune."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
1.250-53
Matthew 5:38-48

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
 
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord, You serve me every day by granting me gifts I do not deserve. Thank You for the opportunity to serve You by serving my neighbor in the maintenance of his possessions and property. Amen.
 
For Wendy Martzowka, who is recovering from back surgery, that she would be granted the gift of complete healing and a recovery of strength
 
For the work of the Luther Academy and its Director, Pr. Robert Bennett, that God the Lord would bless the spreading of the holy Word throughout the world
 
For the mission to help repair damaged homes in Florida and California, that those who have the skill and desire to serve would be able to arrange the time to do this labor of love
 
For the family of Christopher Esget, who was bereaved of his father, that they would mourn with confidence in the promise of Christ that He is the resurrection and the life
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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