I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I’ve never given Mary Magdalene a second thought. If I met her as a kid, I don’t remember it. If we were introduced sometime in college, I’ve forgotten. The truth is that, for me, Mary Magdalene always got lost amid the throng of other Marys in the Bible.
Recently that all changed and I confess that I’m glad I took the time to get to know her more personally. I found Mary Magdalene to be someone perfectly content to live in the background, serving in the shadows of the spotlights cast by her friends. (Truthfully, this is the first thing we connected over as I feel most comfortable serving behind-the-scenes, as well.) As Mary shared her story with me, I perceived a deep level of loyalty to those she called friend – a trait I value highly in my own friends. By the end of our week together, we wept with one another over the loss of loved ones that were so dear to our hearts that it felt like just breathing was an effort. We connected over the intense need we felt to do something for those we’d lost in the wake of their deaths.
Truthfully, I feel I have found a real gem of a friend in Mary Magdalene, a real kindred spirit and soul sister.
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.
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