‘Let me be as Christ to You’
During a recent ‘lockdown sort-out’ I came across an old service sheet for Sunday Eucharist. One of the hymns for that week was ‘Brother, Sister, Let me Serve you’. It has a simple repetitive tune but the words are powerful and emotive. It’s one of my favourite worship songs. When New Zealander Richard Gillard wrote it he was thinking of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, and it is often referred to as the ‘service hymn’.
In Jesus’ time (and in some respects still today), washing the dirty, dusty feet of guests was a menial and somewhat degrading task. It was the job for a servant, not a master. When, at the Last Supper, Jesus carried out this act of service towards his disciples Peter, in particular felt very uncomfortable with this. ‘Imagine being Peter and watching Jesus wash the others’ feet, all the while moving closer to you. Seeing his master behave like a slave must have confused Peter. He still did not understand Jesus’ teaching that to be a leader, a person must be a servant.’ It’s not a comfortable read for leaders who find it hard to serve those ‘beneath’ them.
Just like Peter we can feel uncomfortable with the idea of being served. A dear friend told me recently that I needed to receive as well as give; and to receive graciously.
In the midst of the pandemic crisis many of us are finding ourselves in a situation, through self-isolation, where we are dependent on being served by others. Our independence has been taken away. We may not be able to leave our homes for essential food and medicines, and rely on the goodwill, love and service of others. A few days ago, that same dear friend expressed her frustration at feeling so helpless and impotent. Generosity and service is such a vital part of her being. I reminded her of her own words to me not so long ago.
The crisis has highlighted the many selfless acts of human kindness, whether it is the #viralkindness campaign, the pubs who are providing hundreds of free meals to those in need, the children sending letters and drawings to residents of a care home, the thousands of volunteers who have come forward to help in whatever way they can. All are truly heartening and uplifting. It is a privilege to serve one another, however small the act.
We have often heard politicians tell us in the past that ‘we are all in this together’ and it may have seemed to many to be hollow rhetoric. Now, however, it really is the case. We are all dependent on one another. Those who can serve are doing so willingly, and those who find themselves in Peter’s position need to receive.
Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
Stay safe and God Bless