“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
- Isaiah 60:1-3
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
- John 13:1-5
“We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there. Whenever God inspires, the initiative is a moral one. We must do the thing and not lie like a log. If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured.
“Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal – the utterly mean,* grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real. Read John 13; we see there the Incarnate God doing the most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen’s feet, and He says – “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards. It may be the most commonplace thing, but after we have seen them do it, it becomes different. When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it. Our Lord took on Him our human flesh and transfigured it, and it has become for every saint the temple of the Holy Ghost.
*mean: as used here, something or someone ordinary, common, low, or ignoble, rather than cruel or spiteful.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
When I wrote this, I had just returned from the laundromat. I met my barber there, and we had a few laughs. His washing machine was messed up and our dryer is still not working properly. I suggested we should get together, and we might have one good laundry. I have pretty much gotten my drudgery routine down in that regard. The dryer will halfway dry light clothing. So, I do one load of clothing mid-week that is between a half load and a two-thirds load. Then I can dry it, restarting the dryer about three more times, only running a 45-minute run each time. (The dryer must cool before it can be turned on again.)
But in going to the laundromat, greeting people with a smile is a small way to brighten their day. Getting too talkative could lead to uneasiness.
My wife is the talker. She can make anyone feel at ease, and she has lived a life of the drudgery jobs, from an early age. Being second in a family of nine children, stair steps, she was babysitting at 6-7 years old.
With my wife having kidney dialysis three times each week, she is too tired to do much of anything, but today, she has something in the slow cooker. I look to her when it comes to drudgery type things. She stoops down to help anyone that she can. While in dialysis, she makes friends with the other patients and tries to brighten their day. She helps cheer people up when she can. Some of the patients have more difficulty than she does, but then we have needed help when she has a wave of exhaustion hit trying to get into the SUV. I have had to call for help, but not lately.
Now it is my turn to do the drudgery stuff.
But I am not totally joking with the yawn. Some days are worse than others, usually the extremely hot days. I am ready to collapse. If I could just get a boost of energy on rare occasions. Thus, the yawn.
Jesus washed the disciple’s feet intentionally, to make a point that they were to serve and not be served. All church leaders should do something of that sort.
I remember my second trip to the field in the army while a platoon leader. In the midst of all of the unit testing, testing our preparedness, the company commander pulled the officers aside. The CO (commander) and XO (his executive officer) cooked breakfast for the 160 or so members of the company and us lieutenants, a warrant officer, and the first sergeant served everyone, including doing the cleaning afterward. It was a small gesture, but it boosted morale.
But if the officers only did it once and the elders in the church only did something similar once, people would get the idea quickly that it was a case of virtue signaling. “I proved I could do a lowly task, so now shut up and do as I say.” That only works for a moment. We need to always be in a mindset of serving, even when we are the one in charge, especially then. Our decisions, those of us in charge, affect everyone else.
And while Jesus intentionally washed the feet of His disciples, we might think ahead for our next act of service. When holding the door for your spouse, we might continue to hold the door for the next 2-3 couples. Recently, I did that, and with my wife walking slowly, the other couples passed us to reach the maître ‘d before us. The kindness was returned when the first couple waved us to the front of the line.
We do not always get loving kindness in return for our small acts of kindness, but in acting without the thought of anything in return, simply as a servant serving others, all around you can start to feel warmth toward one another, and this growing divide among people these days may start healing, just a little, when we stop demanding and start serving.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.