Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 38 – Maundy Thursday
From the Scriptures:
‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? 8 Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!”’
During my time as a worshipper at Christchurch, Kenilworth in Cape Town, the Rev David Cook (speaking for all the single men in the congregation) unveiled the perfect strategy for the monthly ‘Bring-and-Share’ meal, ‘You bring your stale cheese sandwiches and then eat someone else’s freshly roasted chicken’!
Anyone who has ever been at a church ‘Bring-and-Share’ meal will know that this statement is as far from the truth as it could be. My current parish, St John’s in Felixstowe, is well known for its generosity when it comes to meals. So much so that we could easily replace our motto ‘Open to God, Open to All’ with ‘Free Food for Everyone!’ To be honest this generosity in providing food is a reflection of our desire to welcome everyone.
On this day of all days, when we remember how our Beloved gave new meaning to every meal, we would do well to remember how all too easily our time in church can be about making ourselves at home before welcoming those outside.
Luke’s story of the faithful worthless slaves has always grabbed at my heart especially as clergy very often find themselves, as a necessity of office, at the front of the queue for communion.
It reminds me that our call is to serve our Beloved who served us first and that His service was much more costly than being last in line is for anything in my life.
It reminds me that to serve the Master first means that I must serve those outside the fellowship – for did He not tell us that it is as we serve them that we serve Him? (Matthew 25.40)
It reminds me that I am indeed ‘a worthless slave’ and any value that there is within me is because He sees something attractive within me that I cannot see.
Of course, as we get used to waiting at the back of the queue relying on the abstemiousness of others for our lunch we realise that we are in a fairly Christ-like place. Remember the story of the woman at the well of Sychar? He came to her thirsty yet does not get to drink. His disciples return bearing food and he does not eat because He is already full. (John 6.32-34)
To wait for others and serve them first is the will of the Father, and this should be our joy, our delight and our very ‘meat and drink’. It is as we learn to be people who give without expecting any return and offer help before waiting to be asked, that we find ourselves replete with food from the Heavenly Banquet, which tastes much better than stale cheese sandwiches or freshly roasted chicken.
God our Strength and our Provider,
you have nourished our souls with your Holy Word
and fed our bodies with the Bread of Heaven.
Send us out into your world
eager to feed and ready to serve your children,
that everyone may know of your love
and come to worship your Holy Name.
Andrew Dotchin – Church of England
- Learn to go last in at least one area of your life. The queue at the bus stop is a good place to start.
- Learn to go last in at least one area of your ministry. Pass up an opportunity to assist with serving communion in favour of another, stand-back when someone else offers to arrange the flowers or help with coffee
- Learn to go last in at least one area of your faith. Aim to make your prayer more about listening for the cries of others and the voice of our Beloved instead of speaking of your own needs first. God knows them already anyway… (Matthew 6.8)
The Principles (part of the Rule) of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis has much in it about serving others.
Perhaps print a copy (link below) to take with you to read in the silence tonight as you consider the way our Beloved becomes the Servant King.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Prayer ‘God our Strength and Provider’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017