Serving Advent

Advent-poinsettaI remember walking away from college with my head stuffed full of dreams, but already disillusionment had set in. I looked around me and thought “these wild boy-men are going to be our pastors, teachers, fathers, leaders? Good grief we’re in trouble.” Now, years later, I’m amazed. Beautiful, powerful things have happened in the places we’ve all lived and moved and related.

As young people we think we will change the world, and we’re right. We will change the world. But not until we first suffer. Not until we first find brokenness. And the world won’t change in the way we had imagined.

For me, a dose of real life buffed off the rough edges and moved me from a crusader to a servant. As a young person I was afraid of being a servant. There was no glory or honor in servant-hood. I couldn’t imagine living a monotonous life of anonymity. Servant-hood frightened me.

I needed this Sunday’s reminder from Zechariah’s prophecy that we find our purpose as we serve:

“We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.” Luke 1:74-75

My heart was thirsty for those words. Even after years of serving fear can creep in. Sometimes I fear the monotony of servant-hood, the cost of it, the misunderstanding that can come with serving, or the indignity. My husband and I have never served a church body that hasn’t at some point cost us or caused us pain. In some instances great pain. As we begin a new ministry our eyes are wide open. We’re under no illusions of grandeur. Serving is hard work. It’s also an inexpressible honor and brings deep joy. Ultimately, there is nothing to fear when we serve with Christ.

Can you relate? Maybe you’ve served in church ministry. Or maybe you serve your family, your community, or your country. Serving people, in Jesus name, is something we do in all walks of life.

As Advent draws nearer it’s timely to reflect on the purpose of Christ’s coming. He came to set us apart, in holiness and righteousness, for service to God. Selfish living leads to restlessness, and heartache. But servant-hood opens the gateway to peace.

In the Sunday school I’ve begun attending I’m one of only a handful of people under 40. And I love it! Every Sunday I’m reminded that many people have served God without fear for years before me. I take great courage in their testimony of God’s faithfulness.

The Advent of Jesus’ coming, to set us free from the enemy of sin, is a gift to us. The world had waited expectantly for his arrival. Now Jesus waits expectantly for our hearts to respond to his gift with one of our own, the gift of service. In gratitude we serve God, without fear, set apart in holiness.

Our service speaks of our gratitude and our expectation of Jesus’ second coming. As we serve we make ourselves ready.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14

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