This week marks our second month, in what I hope to create as a tradition in the UMYF program here at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church. This is our “Third Sunday Service” projects. We are doing projects for several different groups within our church, but also looking towards doing more things in our community. So to me this begs the question “Why Service?” and I aim to explain a little bit of the Theology of Service in our denomination.
One of my favorite John Wesley quotes is, “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” This quote from the founder of the Methodist church points towards service as a man part of the ideas of the church. This is often called “Social Justice,” which has become a term for Glenn Beck to deride churches whom he considers “progressive.” Well also from the words of Wesley we are to be moving towards perfection, that is something “Progressive” I can get behind.
All commentary aside though, why do we serve others? Why do we some the people who have been made the “other?” I will be very open about my reasoning and theology for service, and it may well take several posts to really cover it all. But here is the most basic part of my idea of service. Jesus came to save not the popular or the people you think he would, the good Jews, he brought the good news to all people and especially the least. Jesus came as a servant, while at the Last Supper Jesus does something completely menial. He gets down on his hands and knees and washes the nasty, dirty, smelly feet of the disciples.
The story of the Good Samaritan was a cultural reversal of gigantic proportions in Jesus culture. No self-respecting Jew would have be seen with a Samaritan, yet the Samaritan becomes our example to follow. So Jesus example of service and love for the person who has been the “other” in our society should inform our idea of how to run the church. So for me the theology of service comes simply from attempting to follow the example of Jesus. The biggest problem for many of us is the fact that this is not comfortable or easy, it is in fact dangerous. Church is so easy and tame, we can control the type of music we sing the type of preaching we hear, but as is written “faith without works is dead.”
So this Sunday marks the second time we are attempting in some concrete way to put our faith into works. And saying the “Theology of Service” can sound daunting to some people, but really we can file this under attempting to follow Jesus example.