Though I wasn't quite ready to get out of bed this morning, I remembered faithful Joel who has played music for countless services this week in a variety of places until late at night. Though he is not a boy any longer and between graduate schools for a short time at home, he is still my "boy". So, I arose, as I would any other Easter, put the cinnamon rolls that had been rising all night, into the oven. Next, I brewed strong tea and whipped up our own cheesy eggs so that he would have a tiny "He is risen" breakfast before he took off early to play for 2 more services.
As I sipped my tea, I pictured all of you who serve your families today, on Easter, and every day, who pour out love, training, service of meals and trying to keep your home a place of life amidst the messes and drainers. And I thanked God for you and prayed that you would know how important your work is to the Kingdom. I am convinced that when you serve a child, you are serving Jesus Himself.
When I gather with women, I am sure to hear their stories. Stories of difficulty and joy, happiness and grief, ups and downs that we all face. In these conversations I'm always reminded--Jesus sees each of these precious ones and already knows the story I'm about to be told! He also sees you and cares for you and your own concerns. Jesus came into the world because the people of the world desperately needed hope, comfort, forgiveness, wisdom, and love. He was humble and meek--in other words, he came to slip right into the mundane lives of the normal people for whom He came. When he looked out to the multitudes, like those in my home, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9).
He was a servant-king. He washed feet, held and blessed children, loved the downcast--the lepers, the prostitute, the poor, the sick-- served meals, and again I say, washed feet. He was a "man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" as we read in Isaiah. This was His message ...
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
Interestingly, when Jesus came to open his ministry in the temple, it is this very passage that He read. He was on a mission--He was here to heal, to save, to encourage, to proclaim God. When we love Jesus, we will be overcome with His compassion. Our words will be full of power and life and hope. No one will leave our home without having a sense of His hand of love, His voice of truth, His comfort, His strength and calling.
Truly, our homes are the arena in which we can build the life of Christ, and become a sanctuary for those who need to feel His life by being welcomed and receiving a "cup of cold water"-- maybe a home cooked meal, a focused conversation, a healing touch. We celebrate the traditions of home, not because we want to be busier--no one needs that!--but to make the life of Christ come alive, to show the beauty of God, to give our children a live picture of His beauty, His reality, His truth, His words and His outreaching love.
We have been given this day so we might give Him our responsive gift of love, to serve and love and comfort and reflect His spirit alive to all who are in our arena, first our family and then those whom He has providentially placed there.
Homes are the foundations for society.
When the life of Christ flourishes there, the life of Christ will flourish in our nations. But we cannot imitate His life unless we ourselves are spending time in His presence. The older I get, the more I love Him, the more I admire Him and understand the heart of this servant king, who humbly lived His life to pour out for the benefit of others because the very essence of His being was to redeem, to give, to serve.
So this is the source of our strength in tirelessly giving and serving: Christ in us.
Christ giving us His strength, power and resurrection life, lived out through the rocking of children and listening to their starry eyed wishes and stories and giving grace to the unlovely in our lives, because we, too, are unlovely but accepted. We make and serve meals in grateful appreciation to Him who is preparing a future feast for us. We endeavor to give of our love and gracious words generously because He has so given to us.
When we spend time in His presence, we fall in love with Him more, and that love spills over to our children, our husband, and our friends. Jesus himself said, "He who follows me, from His innermost being shall flow springs of living water." His life will overflow through us. Someone, perhaps many someones in your life today, need to feel this touch, these words of encouragement, this life; the actions that say, "The peace and grace of the Lord be with you--for He has given it to me and I, by His healing love, am so happy to give it to you."
How I wish I could have each of you for your own personal tea time to tell you how much He loves you.
May His life fill and fuel our days as we celebrate this week the magnificent reality of His life in the sanctuary of our sacred homes.