Sermon For Sunday, September 21, 2014 John 13:3-17 “A Heart To Serve” This is the third in a series of sermons: Following The Fundamentals Of The Faith (Without Being Fundamentalist!) Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Cleveland, Ohio ~ Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-Mail: Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog: To watch a video of this sermon, go to:   Mother-Teresa-2Three people, iconic figures of the 20th century, offered their pointed advice on this topic of service: Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we Mahatma_Gandhihave done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’” Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “Everybody can be great…because anybody cmartin-luther-king-jran serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”   These three individuals have become the patron saints of service and servanthood, and all point to a deeper truth: one of the highest forms of living, whether it be seen from a religious or spiritual viewpoint, or from a purely practical and civil perspective, can be found in service to others.   And I would like to make the point this day that just as true service, while it may be a struggle, it may irritate us, it may even exhaust us, nonetheless comes from a heart of service. And a heart of service is discernable by one key feature: it gives without thought of receiving in return. Jesus said it simply, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” (Lk 6:35) Dr. King went on to say, in referring to the story of the “Good Samaritan,” “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”   Now, of course, I offer this to you as a personal reflection, inviting each and every one of us to consider a life of service without regard to what we get in return, on a personal level. As is the nature of all religion, we begin by understanding how it calls to us as individuals. But similarly, as with all healthy religious and spiritual guidance, we must think of this communally. What does it mean for our church, big “C” and little “c,” to have a servant’s heart? To “do good, to loan,” without expecting anything in return?   When our congregation celebrated its Spiritual Gifts Sunday a year ago, and we took as a community our Spiritual Gifts Inventory, by far the largest categories of gifts we saw in ourselves was service, hospitality, and giving. This means something significant for our church. It means that not only do many of us as individuals have a heart to serve, but as an institution, a community, a church we have a heart to serve. Therefore we should listen to the saints of servanthood and read the scriptures of service more profoundly and more candidly.   And what I propose is that as this congregation looks to its future, as Jesus looked to his final day on this earth, that we spend less time worrying about whether or not we are going to survive and more and more and more as to whether or not we are fully serving our neighbor in need. I believe with every fiber of my being, that if we focus on washing the feet of our sisters and brothers, visiting them in prison, feeding those who are hungry, caring for the ones injured on the road of life, the future of this great church will most certainly be assured. Then, and only then, will our “reward be great and we will be children “of the Most High.”   Amen.   Liturgy written by Rev. Allen V. Harris: CALL TO WORSHIP One:           From the first steps of the earth creature, you, O God, knew that we were not made to be alone, so you created community. Many:        Our lifeblood is service, our chief joy is to serve our neighbor. One            The call of the world is to turn inward, first to tribe and ultimately to self; but you, O God, cajole and coax us beyond ourselves to see you in our neighbor. Many:        Our lifeblood is service, our chief joy is to serve our neighbor. One:           Remind us that to treat another as we would wish to be treated is a good and worth goal. Many:        Our lifeblood is service, our chief joy is to serve our neighbor. INVOCATION, CONFESSION, & LORD’S PRAYER (using “debts” and “debtors”) O God, forgive us when the pains and heartaches of this world cause us to withdraw and fortify. Forgive us when the overwhelming nature of need and the few who abuse the system make us calloused and cold. Remind us in the servanthood of Christ that it is in helping the “other” that our true security is found. Loosen up our hardened hearts and invite us, once again, to recognize that our true essence is to serve and not to be served.