It is easy to get discouraged at times. I have to confess that I spent the first two weeks of 2015 not wanting to be at or around church. There were several reasons. Post Christmas blues might have been one of them. Workload (work as well as church) was certainly another. Add in a lack of connection in prayer meetings, Sunday worship, etc., and you have a recipe for let’s take a walk around town on Sunday morning and sit in Costa Coffee instead of church.
Last Sunday felt different. I can’t explain why. We arrived at church early like we always do. There were the usual challenges of helping the duty deacon to put the building straight. Even the fact that the musicians were practicing songs that don’t feature in my worship top ten didn’t take my smile away. Then one of the young people who had arrived early blessed me by asking if I needed help with anything. I directed her to my wife who was busy setting up pre-church tea and coffee.
It was twenty minutes into the service before my wife and I managed to grab seats in the gallery and join the rest of the congregation. That’s normal. Others never get to be part of the congregation every Sunday because they are on foyer or crèche duty. After the message I nipped out and raced around the Sunday School classes to let the teachers know that the service was coming to an end. I made it back to the gallery in time to catch the last two lines of the final song.
I remained in the gallery for a while after the service talking to a friend. Looking down to the main part of the sanctuary I remembered why being part of my church is such a blessing. All around there were groups of people engaging with each other. Kids were racing around. Folk were drinking coffee and moving round the building. Some were still working – clearing away after classes and coffee. The church sanctuary still needed to be cleared of chairs ready for the week ahead; and the building checked and secured. It didn’t matter. What matters is that there are a number of people who work tirelessly inside the building and outside, with much of what they do unseen. As church secretary I see more than most of what goes on. And it blesses me.
In fact, what goes on behind the scenes and in the hearts of the people who serve without expecting to be acknowledged or thanked blesses me far more than the stuff that discourages me. Stuff like church politics, the people who do very little, the moaners, and those who always expect someone else to clear up after them. The folk who make church happen all through the week still need to be thanked and recognized. To those in my church – you know who you are. I know who you are too, and so does your Heavenly Father. Thank you for blessing me and blessing our fellowship through all that you do.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (John 13: 1-17 NLT)