Someone asked me to post the Sermon that I delivered at the convention for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod on July 22nd – the text was Acts 6:1-7 –* At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.a 2* So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.* 3Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, 4whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6b They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.* 7The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Here it is………………………..
So I went to a restaurant and someone took me to my table and I wanted water and they said, “your server will be right with you.” I went to another restaurant and they took me to a table and I asked for water and they said ” the wait staff will be notified. ”
I was ticked. I was upset. Are you so compartmentalized, unionized, task oriented, set in your ways, or just plain lazy that I can’t even get a glass of water? Are you so set in your little silos or labor allocations that I can’t get water? Or is it the title thing?
You are maître d’ – you have a title and you can never condescend to bring me water because that would place you with the waitstaff, with the servers and , well, with people like me. You have a title and never let it be said that someone with a title will condescend to wait on or serve on the likes of me.
And really that is why I was upset. Because I believe that I should be waited on and served whenever I want to be waited on and served. I also believe the whole world should wait on and serve me. I believe I am the center of the universe and it bothers me when someone won’t acknowledge how great I am. And you are the same. You believe that you’re the center of the universe too. It’s hard for folks like us to fear love and trust in God above all and love our neighbors as ourselves because we think of ourselves pretty highly.
So you know how I felt when I read this text. How did you feel? The apostles act like uppity maitre d’s. We got hungry widows? Inform the wait staff. Sorry ladies your servers will be right with you as soon as we find some.
I felt something like that when I read about one who spoke with authority. He had authority over demons and diseases.. He healed the sick, raised the dead, made the blind see and lame walk. He had a name Jesus. Savior. He had a title – Christ –
the anointed one and he was anointed to be my prophet priest and king. This titled one had compassion on the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd and one day on a lonely hillside after he preached and the day was long and hot and the crowds were hungry the same disciples who would one day appoint the seven to serve heard him say “you don’t have to
send the crowds away – you feed them. You serve them. You wait on them. There may be no food to feed them, there may not be enough money in this entire crowd to buy enough food, but you serve them”. The wait staff has been notified.
He took some bread and fish And prayed and broke it and from those simple gifts all were blessed. Hungry people, confused dumbfounded and some would say just plain dumb disciples were fed and served.
He preached, equipped, and he blessed. And he waited on those disciples for three long years. He waited on them to get it. He waited on them to understand that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them but it would not be like that with them. Instead the greatest among them would be a servant, a waiter.
He waited on them for years to get it. Understand that the least of his brothers even the little children were greatest in the kingdom. He waited on and served them and even on the night when he was betrayed he waited on them. He waited on
them to understand what he was doing when he took a towel and washed their feet. He waited on them to get it when he served them his body and his blood; he waiting on them to watch and pray.
He waited on them even while he was dying. He served them and us. He served his mother and gave her another son. He served a thief inviting him into the life everlasting. He serves his heavenly Father a broken body and shed blood as an offering that would take the sins of the whole world away. He dies. His life an offering of service as he waited for all to be accomplished.
Even after the resurrection he still served. He makes breakfast for them on the beach. When he is about to go back to heaven he still serves. The great commission is about serving and waiting on. Go and baptize and teach. That’s serving. Baptizing them in the name of the Father who gave them a Savior and gives them all that they need for life. Clothing and shoes, meat and drink, household and all the things we need for life in this world and the world to come. In the name of the Son who served them by
dying on a cross to take sins away. In the name of the Spirit who serves them by bringing them in the family of God. He calls gathers enlightens and sanctifies them and offers them gifts. Jesus tells those disciples “you don’t have to send the world away – you feed them. And I will be with you like I was on that mountain to multiply blessings. You don’t have to send the world away you feed them.”
He waits on us to come to our senses to get back to our right mind like the prodigal son came to his senses and ran back to the waiting father. He waits for us to come to our senses like Paul tells us to do. We should have the same mind in us as Christ Jesus who being the very nature God did not think the equality with God was something to be grasped or flashed in front of everybody’s face and say” don’t you know who I am ” but He humbled himself and became obedient even to death on a cross. The suffering servant.
God wants us to have a the mind of one who said “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many – I came not to be waited on but to wait on and I’m waiting on you. Waiting on You this moment to understand what your baptism means, what you were baptized for and it is service.
He is waiting on us to come to our senses and realize it is not about getting gifts, being served, and hoarding everything for ourselves. It is not about us thinking we are the center of the universe and we want to be served, but realizing that the center of the universe served us poor, wretched, blind, beggars and made us the center of his universe so that we can serve in his kingdom in everlasting righteousness and innocence and blessedness.
Back at the beginning I was wondering about those apostles. Did they think preaching and administering the sacraments was better than waiting on tables ? No. For it was all of a piece like Jesus seamless robe. We need to be as smart as those soldiers under the cross and not divide this garment -shouldn’t gamble for it either. We shouldn’t gamble on getting it by our own reason or strength but keep it together.
When our servants serve us in baptism they Free us to live a merciful life. When our servants serve us absolution they speak is free so that we can speak our neighbors free and be of service. When our servants serve us the Lords supper we get Jesus whole and entire so that we can give ourselves whole and entire to our neighbors and serve them.
This is what we’ve been baptized for. We’ve been baptized for fellowship with The one who invites us to the banquet hall and his banner over us is love. He’s the maître d’. He is the server. He is the waiter who gives us the clothes we need to wear – his own righteousness and he’s the feast. In the water and word, in the bread and wine He serves us so that we can serve others.
In His Name and for His sake.