Friday, June 10, 2016

Devotional 6-10-16


In John 13:4-5 are found these words:  “So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron.  Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.” (The Message)

In the New International Version and many other versions it says he wrapped a towel around his waist, but I like the image from the Message of an apron.  Aprons were a common piece of apparel for my grandmother and she was a wonderful example of a caring servant.  She never took her apron off while she was at home unless she entertained company in the ‘front’ room. Her aprons served as splash collectors, pot holders, egg carriers and wash cloths. She dried our tears with a tissue she always kept in the pocket and let us borrow an apron to “help” knead the bread dough. I never saw her use it to wash or dry feet but I might have been away that day.

Her kind of service was quiet and loving.  She wasn’t boastful or attention seeking.  She fed her neighbors with the bounty from my grandfather’s garden, worked tirelessly on many church projects and served as a caregiver to many in the community who lacked other resources. And she passed on this gentle steady approach of serving others to all of her 9 grandchildren and countless others.

I recently (although I’ve been told it’s been around for a while) read a story of how an ethics professor at Princeton Seminary asked for volunteers for an extra assignment. About half the class met him at the library to receive their assignments. The professor divided the students into three groups of five each.

He gave the first group envelopes telling them to proceed immediately across campus to Stewart Hall. He told them that they had 15 minutes and if they didn't arrive on time, it would affect their grade. A minute or two later, he handed out envelopes to five others. They were also to go over to Stewart Hall, but they had 45 minutes. The third group had three hours to get to Stewart Hall.

The students weren't aware of it, but the professor had arranged for three drama students to meet them along the way. Close to the beginning of their walk, one of the drama students had his hands on his head and was moaning aloud as if in great pain. About half way to Stewart Hall, on the steps of the chapel, the seminary students passed a man who was lying face down as if unconscious. Finally, on the steps of Stewart Hall, the third drama student was acting out a seizure.

In the first group of students, those who had only 15 minutes to get across campus, no one stopped to help. In the second group, two students stopped to help. In the last group, the one that had three hours for their assignment, all of the students stopped to help at least one person. The professor had clearly shown these seminarians that “hurry” gets in the way of caring.

I don’t know how many extra points were given for participation or if the final exam was on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but this story certainly shows us that our daily life sometimes gets in the way of our calling to be a servant.  Sometimes our busy schedules keep us from noticing when someone needs a hand-up.

So I challenge you to find a way to don your aprons and be on the lookout for ways to care for others.  Sometimes it might be a random act of kindness – like allowing someone to go ahead of you in line or picking up an item that someone has dropped.  Or other times it might be some activity that you plan ahead of time, like serving at the Food Pantry or Common Grounds. Maybe you are called to “Pay it Forward” in some way or to send a card or make a phone call.  Listen for the call to service and God will bless the care you have shared.

Dear God of the lonely, the poor and the needy, we are sorry when we have let busyness get in the way of our service to you.  Please forgive us for our failings and guide us to reset our priorities to include your plan for our days.  Help us to put on our aprons to care for your children whoever they may be. AMEN.

Chyrl Budd

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