I am so humbled to labor with such an incredible team of Christ followers serving the least of these at Feeding Hands. It was a remarkable eight months as we came together to launch and carry out this mission to our neighbors in need. It required us to be flexible, steadfast, committed, sacrificial and overflowing with love. Everyone, including the whole of Emmanuel Church, flexed and adjusted as the Lord brought in so many of the hungry so quickly. Yet, I only remember one day where we felt overwhelmed. We just followed the Lord’s promptings and adjusted our process not our mission. The result was the distribution of over 40,000 pounds of food, 1000’s of prayers and untold numbers of smiles and hugs and tears. We wore the heart of Christ on our sleeve as we served and this heart is what those who came in saw that was so different and so welcoming. We blessed others and, as a result, we were ourselves blessed to witness the hand of God repeatedly moving in this ministry. The beautiful thing is that we have only seen a small blessing compared to what he promised.
Allow me to share again what the Holy Spirit revealed to us Tuesday in our devotion regarding the blessings that will flow from obedience such as you showed these past few months. Exactly who were the first witnesses to the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry? The second chapter of John records Mary, Jesus and his disciples were at the wedding in Cana where his mother asks him to intervene as the wine supply ran out. Despite Jesus’ objections, Mary told the servants to “Do whatever he tells you.” So Jesus told them to fill the water jars and “dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. Jn 2:1-12
Mary was there at the wedding, as were his disciples. But the servants, who were there to dispense food and drink, were actually the first witnesses to the first miracle of his ministry… providing drink for those who were thirsty! Coincidence? Not a chance! Each word of the Bible is carefully chosen since it originates from the one who is the Word. Were the servants incredibly blessed? You bet! Imagine what their faith must have been like over the next few years of Jesus’ ministry. This message of the obedient servant is one of the most consistent messages of the bible. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Jn 12:26
Clearly, we are to follow Jesus and serve him where he is. But where is Jesus and how do we serve him? I don’t know about you but he hasn’t shown up at any weddings I attended asking me to fill the water jars! Matthew 24 and 25 gives us this answer. Starting at Mt 24:45, Jesus identifies the “faithful and sensible servant” through a definitive statement stating he is “one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.” He then reinforces this definition with parables about using our gifts (talents) to the best of our ability to serve others and being rewarded with additional responsibility for a job well done. Then, with no break in location or continuity, he tells us in no uncertain terms where he is and how he expects us to specifically serve him, our master. When he was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, sick and in prison, his servants were with him meeting his needs by caring for the least of these. Each of us at Feeding Hands, like the servants in Cana, clearly saw that in doing so, we experienced faith building opportunities in the here and now watching him make a way where none existed. But he tells us we can also look forward to eternal blessings. For to those sheep who follow and serve him, he says, “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” Mt 25:34
I pray we stand firm in the coming year and continue to serve our Lord and Savior by being there where he is and standing firm on his promise that we will be blessed by his Father in heaven for our obedience both as witnesses here on earth and in eternity.