When preaching, one of the prayers I like to open with goes like this: “The service I give is the rent I pay for the life God has given to me.” The words are a modified version of something Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund said. I find these words more than inspiring but rather true: Our lives are not our own, they belong to God, it is all gift, and we are simply renters. The rent is paid by the service we give.
Several years ago I spent some time with the Yale theologian and author, Miroslav Volf. Part of our discussion we had fell on the subject of service. Speaking to those at table with him, he asked (As I quote this from someone else): “So what does it mean to ‘put on Jesus,’ and collaborate with him and our fellow Christians in the work of the kingdom?” asked Miroslav. He had gained some insights into this question on a trip to his native Croatia. He and a friend went on a quest for some sausage, and their journey took them to the home of an old man in a distant village. When they entered his kitchen, they saw an open Bible on the table, one that the man had clearly picked up and read.
The old man offered them some wine, and they started talking. Not about sausage, but about Christian life. "Always choose a more difficult path," the old man said. A neighbor asked him to clarify what he meant, so he said, "It's easier for us to be served than to serve and to take than to give. Serving is the harder path, giving is the harder path. Because we are selfish, the path of love is always more difficult."
Miroslav Volf marveled at what was being said. He was amazed that they were having that kind of conversation, rather than just exchanging a few pleasantries about the weather or sports. Then he realized that if the Bible is on your kitchen table, then those sorts of conversations will happen. When you focus on Scripture, on a life of service, and on the path of love, then you are going to talk about the deep questions of life -- instead of the weather.
The old man in Croatia had clearly "put on Christ." He knew his Bible and was willing to engage others in conversation about the great questions of human existence and the challenges of a life worth living.
Whenever you pull a group of Christians together, good thinkers will inspire each other. May we at St. Clare’s be the kind of community that inspires each other to good works for a world that needs our service.
Yours for the reign of God,