Spiritual Disciplines // GRATITUDE AND SERVICE
When I (Donia) was around ten years old, our church helped an elderly woman and her eight year old granddaughter move. We had arrived, expecting to load items into the truck right away, but the apartment hadn’t been packed. The poor woman, who was somewhat disabled and very distraught over having to relocate her life, didn’t know where to start. One of the men gave out some instructions to us and I found myself packing up her kitchen. My family had moved many times, so even at that young age I knew how to wrap plates and stack fragile items so they wouldn’t break. I remember the woman’s sweet, grandmotherly smile and voice full of gratitude, saying in broken English, “Donia, you are my savior.” Our hard work had brought relief and love into her life that day. Even as I write this, decades later, tears spring into my eyes. I’ll never forget the joy I felt at being able to help-to know that I had made a difference, through just a small act of service.
Service and gratitude go hand in hand. Both are lovely and of God. This past Sunday, we read in Nehemiah 3, which describes how the people of Israel came together in service to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Name after name is recorded-names that are, for all intents and purposes, FORGETTABLE. And yet, there they are, in black and white thousands of years later, memorialized despite their seeming insignificance. Let’s read:
Passages like this can be somewhat arduous to take in. Riddled with unfamiliar names, laborious details, and references to a bunch of different gates we can’t begin to visualize, it takes all my focus to GET THROUGH. In the drudgery, it would be easy to miss what Isaac pointed out this past Sunday-the beauty of God’s community gathered together in service.
The body of Christ is this amazing transnational community that exists to promote the values of an unseen kingdom. Through acts of service, we build the body up. We provide relief, we prepare the next generation, we pave the way to worship and truth. Together.
Next to them…
Also included in this chapter, is the spectrum of attitudes that come with serving. Some people came with energy and enthusiasm for the work, like Baruch son of Zabbai (3:20). Others made it more difficult, but showed up nevertheless (3:5).
Serving is one of the gifts of being part of something bigger than our individual lives, families, and homes. We get to come together. We absorb the stinkers who want to serve on their own terms. We are energized by the zealots. We are strengthened and challenged by serving together and we pass on the habit to our children. This is the body of Christ and this is how we are transformed. Serving is a gift we must not neglect.
- Read Corinthians 12.
- Reflect: Have you ever wished you could be like someone else, that you had their gifts? (repent) Do you have gifts that remain unused? (repent) How have you served the body of Christ in the past and how are you currently serving? Is there a conflict or attitude that needs attention with regard to how you serve the body of Christ?
- Express gratitude to someone who has served you well. Write a thank you card and slip it into the mail to bless their day.
- Explore opportunities to serve at New Hope (you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org)