Page 360 was Christmas Day with the bonus of being a Sunday! As a double bonus, I had the privilege of preaching this morning at the North Wayne Mennonite Church. And no, I didn’t feel bad about having to “work” on Christmas Day. For me, the path that some chose to take of closing the church and not having Sunday services because it was a holiday seems rather strange. I could think of no better way to spend the day which we set aside to honor the birth of Christ than to actually gather with other believers to do just that as we worshiped together and shared in God’s Word.
This morning’s sermon continued a character study series I am working on with the series title of “Living As the Lord’s Servant”. This morning we looked at the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, in a message titled, “Living as a WILL-ing Servant”. It’s not too bad to think of ourselves as the Lord’s servant . . . at least until we are called upon to actually serve. How often do we come up with excuses and do everything in our power to avoid the task before us when we are asked to serve in specific ways? If we truly desire to live as the Lord’s servant, we can learn a great deal from the willing response of Mary after being told by an angel of the specific task she would have, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
This morning we looked at four aspect of living as a willing servant, and in keeping with my style of sermon outlines we used the first four letters of the word willing with the “ing” being a commonality with each sermon point. The first thing we addressed from Mary’s life was our need to live as a Worshiping servant. When our life is lived in true worship of a living God, our response to the work God would have us to do is also expressed in worship. After the angel had left, we have recorded by Luke a song of praise that Mary offered in worship of God. Her worship gives us insight into how she saw God and why she could be a willing servant. Worship is our expression to God of the worth He has to us, but it also serves as a reminder to us of why God is worthy of our serving Him.
As a willing servant of the Living God, Mary was also an Inviting servant. At a time when a desire for some degree of privacy might seem like a normal response to having just delivered a baby, the shepherds were welcomed into the scene as this servant of God shared the moment with those who had come with curiosity about the news that had been told to them by an angel. And later, when the Magi made their way to where Joseph and Mary were staying, they were invited in to offer their gifts and worship to the Christ child. The message God delivered through Jesus is an invitation to all who would come. When we seek to live as a servant of the Lord, we must live as an inviting servant because the Master has given instruction that we are to share His invitation with everyone.
In addition to being a Worshiping and Inviting servant, Mary was also a Learning servant. On the surface, the response of Zechariah to the angel’s announcement concerning the birth of John the Baptist seems similar to the initial response given by Mary. Both of them questioned how it could happen. However, God’s response to each of them was quite different. Zechariah’s question was seen by God as doubt and left him literally speechless until John was born and named. Mary’s question was seen by God as a desire to learn and the response became a teaching moment regarding the way the birth of Jesus would come about. I know many people who live as if they know more than God. They would never say that, but there is no appearance of a willingness to learn as they serve. In order to be a servant of the Lord, we must be a learning servant as we continually grow in the grace and knowledge that comes through God’s Spirit and our time in prayer and the Word.
Finally, living as a willing servant requires that we live as a Loving servant. Mary’s love for God is obvious in her willingness to have everything the angel said come to pass. We also see her love expressed in her worship of God. Being chosen to be the mother of Jesus carried with it the responsibility of raising and loving this child as only a mother, or God, could. When we realize our ability and capacity to love is something that comes from God, we should know exactly who to turn to when we need help being a loving servant. When we understand that Jesus came to earth as an expression of God’s love, our serving God will also reflect His love. It is through serving others with the love of Christ that we find ourselves serving God. In fact, Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of His brethren, we do for Him.
I pray that you and I would make the most of every opportunity that God gives us. I pray that we would find (and give) joy and encouragement in the times we gather with fellow believers. I pray that we would desire to live as a servant of the Lord. I pray that our relationship with Jesus would lead us to live as a willing servant. I pray that our willingness to serve would be expressed as a Worshiping, Inviting, Learning, and Loving servant.