Service to All
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus tells his followers that for them to be with him forever they “must serve the rest, they must serve all”
We are all a part of this community, a community where we enjoy each other, we talk, we pray, we celebrate, we share meals and we hug each other, plentifully. The ultimate joining for us occurs during the sharing of the Eucharist, Communion, where we are all taking part in a real way in the Body of Christ the source of our belief. We are many diverse parts, but we are all one body in faith.
When we serve one another as the text instructs us to do, when we help someone or share our presence, our gifts, we know we are following the Gospel. But how and why may be a more basic thing that we realize.
First, I ask the question, do we serve others to obey-to follow rules of the law?
Second, do we serve other to placate ourselves or to try to make ourselves feel better?
As I thought and prayed about these questions I turned to a book written by Theologian,
Joerg Rieger. The title is God and the Excluded. In his book, Rieger examines the two great commandments, to love God above all else, and to love your neighbor as yourself. He specifically looks at the love of neighbor and states that for one to love the neighbor as self, one must first love themselves. This self-love is the root of one loving others.
According to Rieger, we love and serve others because they are a part of us, a part of one body.
We truly share our existence and cannot be a whole, complete loving human person without others.
In his book I and Thou, Theologian Martin Buber concludes that we can only know ourselves as a part of our shared experience with others. So being kind, self-aware, and willing to serve are basic parts of being human, of being who we were born to be. We are created in the image of God our Creator. Service, kindness, presence, love, and care are part of our innate human nature. Those are the things we all need to be a part of a shared human world. Every child born only thrives when born and cared for within this environment.
So, caring and service are basic to our survival, personally and communally. This unity is the thread in our communal fabric. I pray that we continue to serve and love one another within this community and where ever we meet others.