Servant Community

SERVANT COMMUNITY
Randall Tremba
January 8, 2012
Baptism of the Lord Sunday
Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church

Mark 1:4-11
"The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but the Coming One will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

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In just a few minutes from now we will ordain by the “laying-on-of-hands”—a few of us to serve this congregation as Elders and Deacons. From time to time we ordain a few to help all of us grow in knowledge, grace, and gratitude as well as in compassion for the world. Ministers, Elders and Deacons serve the church so that the church, that is to say, all the baptized may boldly and creatively serve the world. Baptism is the first ordination to service in the world.

This past year we gathered every Sunday and certain other days in our Meeting House to remember our baptism, which is to say, to remember who we are and what we are meant to do. We did it this past year and we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we gathered round the dying and the grieving to offer comfort and a sometimes a knitted prayer shawl. And we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we gathered round newborns to offer a welcome, a blessing, a rose and sometimes baptism. And we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we carried meals to the homebound. We drove the disabled to medical appointments, raked leaves and cleaned out gutters for the elderly in our parish. We shared a meal, games, and songs with migrant workers in our county. And we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we assembled a playground for children at the Shenandoah Women’s Center in Martinsburg and for children in Bluefields, Nicaragua and sent aid and Christmas cards to orphans in Thailand. This past year we stood up and spoke out on behalf of the imperiled GLBT community and for the beleaguered Muslim community. This past year we collected a ton of food and clothing for the Jefferson County Community Ministries and the Rescue Mission. We also lent hands, feet, ears, backs and voices at the homeless shelter in Charles Town, to meals on wheels, in grade school classrooms, hospice, and the Relay for Life. And we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we gave tens of thousandsof dollars to support mission, ministries and humanitarian programs in this country and around the world. We purchased cows and a well for our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. On Christmas Eve alone we gave $5669—half for GSIVC (Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers) and half for Caring Cupboard, a new local ministry that provides a nutritional bag of food for 80 some needy school children every weekend during the school year. Our Sunday Studio children now give their nickels and dollars every Sunday for Caring Cupboard.

This past year we went to many ordinary daily jobs in many different places. No matter the job or pay, we put our hearts and souls into doing it right and making the world in that place a little better. And we’ll do it again this year.

This past year we gathered in our Meeting House to remember who we are and what we are meant to do. And here we are again today gathered round the Table.

In case you hadn’t heard or noticed, at the heart of Christian practice is a meal. It’s not much as far as size goes. But it’s huge as far as symbolism goes. You can hear it in the verbs: “Take, bless, break, pour and give.” We take up our lives, bless, break them open and give them away that others might live. We can do that because we ourselves have been taken, blessed, broken and given. Some Christians believe in original sin. We believe in original blessing.

Did you hear it? Were you listening? You are my Child. With you I am will pleased.

At the heart of Christian practice is a meal. And at the heart of Christian community is a servant named Jesus. Jesus said: I have not come to be served but to serve. Yes, we call him Lord and King but those are our words not his.

John the Baptizer ranted and raved about the way of righteousness but the One more powerful turned out to be the One who serves the way of love.

Today we renewed our baptism. Today once again we take our stand with the Beloved, which means we will walk, talk, work and kneel in a certain way every day all year long.