Mary, the Lord’s Servant

"Blessed Art Thou Among Women" by Walter Rane
“Blessed Art Thou Among Women” by Walter Rane

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Mary had plans. She was engaged to be married. Her man was stable, respectable and dependable. She was soon to embark on the next season of her life. You can almost hear her whistling while she cheerfully went about her work, maybe even daydreaming about the day she would soon become Mrs. Joseph. {contented sigh}

In a moment, Mary’s dreamy plans were altered. She was to be the mother of God’s Son, not Joseph’s. She was to name him Jesus, not whatever name had tickled her fancy growing up. He was going to go into His Father’s business, not the family business. And God was going to bring this about in a supernatural way, not by implementing the natural order of things.

Mary’s plans changed, her life altered course, not because of something she had done, but because she had found favor with God. Her reaction?

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ ”

As you walk through this first week in December, think about Mary’s response. Really ponder her words in the context of your own life and circumstances – in rush hour traffic, at the grocery store, in that important meeting, during the school play, at the library, while making dinner, at the neighborhood Christmas party. What is your response when life throws you a curveball? How do you react when your plans are frustrated? Is your knee-jerk reaction, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

 

The Heart of a Servant – a guest post by Amanda Erickson

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I was so little my daddy had to pull a chair up to the kitchen sink so I could stand on it, tippy-toed, to help wash the dishes. Actually, I’m pretty sure he had me rinsing dishes, as my untrained eye and the desire to rush through this chore almost surely would have resulted in not very clean dishes. Daddy was washing, I was rinsing.

Some of my earliest memories of family holidays are of my Daddy drawing my little brother and me to himself and telling us it was time to clean our Grandma’s kitchen. Not all that surprising was how resistant my brother and I were to this idea – downright resentful some times! But my dad, well, he always did it with a cheerful spirit, often whistling or humming a tune while cleaning up the holiday mess.

There are recurring moments that sprinkle through my childhood memories. Daddy washing up dishes at Grandma’s house. Daddy clearing people’s plates from the table at church functions so they could keep right on talking. Daddy staying until the lights were turned out and doors locked so he could help clean up after a party or event.

“Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

Over the past 2 1/2 years I’ve been on the receiving end of my dad’s selfless service. Throughout two tough pregnancies and having new little ones of my own, my dad has stepped in to serve me in ways I never knew I needed. During my pregnancies he’d call on his way home from work (he drives by my house to go to and from work) to see if I needed anything on his way by. Whether it was delivering pregnancy cravings or taking out a mostly empty trash bag because super pregnancy nose was in full swing, he did it. And when my husband is out of town he stops by to help give baths and tuck in tots. Although that may be a little self serving since his my two year old loves seeing his Papa, and the feeling is quite mutual.188349_502463844269_896_n

My dad has the heart of a servant. He serves others and models Christ in a way that makes the Gospel come to life right before your eyes, bringing to life the Scriptural admonition to serve one another in love. Of course as a kid I thought washing dishes at Grandma’s house was some sort of unusual punishment or penance required for enjoying a bountiful Christmas morning. As I grew up though, I realized that inasmuch as Daddy was teaching us to do dishes with a  cheerful spirit (confession: I still wrestle with that), the more valuable lesson he modeled for us was that of selflessly and joyfully serving others.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7

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My father-in-law has the heart of a servant. Truly. He is the first person that came to mind when I turned my attention toward the command to “serve one another.” His consistent example to me over the past 25 years has defined and shaped what it looks like to flesh out this command and has served to inspire me toward living the same. While I’ve seen his servant’s heart in action for the past 25 years of marriage to his oldest, my sister-in-law (Amanda Erickson) has been blessed with a lifetime of living and learning from this most gracious of men. May you be blessed in getting to know my amazing father-in-law, Murray Smith, through the eyes of his biggest fan.

Serve One Another

Recently I was laying across the kids’ trampoline in our back yard, pondering what we did with the minions this year for Easter. Our youngest two are teenagers, so gone are the days of hiding Easter eggs around our house & yard so that the kids could search for them like treasure. They are older now, more mature. Not willing to let go of memory-making moments that hold meaning to us as followers of Jesus, or lose the opportunity to invest in my kids’ relationship with God, I decided to try something new. This year the kids hunted Easter-themed geocaches Simon & I hid around the city of Dallas instead of the traditional candy-filled eggs. Each was located at a spot with life-sized art that holds religious significance to us as believers and (I hoped!) would add to their understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them.

"Divine Servant" by Max Greiner, Jr. is on display all over the world. For a listing, visit the website.
“Divine Servant” by Max Greiner, Jr. is on display all over the world. For a listing, visit the website.

On Maundy Thursday we visited the first geocache, which depicted Jesus as the “Divine Servant.” Once the kids located the bronze statue (pictured), we shared with them that Maundy Thursday is the remembrance of the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples – the Last Supper. As we examined the details of the “Divine Servant,” I opened my Bible app and began reading John 13. It is hard to explain the emotion I experienced as I read the text with this life-sized representation of the very words in front of my eyes. It was powerful. I felt like I was witnessing Jesus’ servant’s heart, live. His humility, in person. His love, in action. And it made me think…

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13

What does my freedom look like to those with whom I share life? Is a servant’s heart displayed in my actions? Does my life more often display His humility or the indulgence of my own flesh (my own desires)? Are my actions spurred by a love that extends beyond myself? In short, does my life add to others’ understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them?