Series: The Tie That Binds
November 4, 2018
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Random Acts of Kindness. Have you heard of this? Maybe you’ve even participated at one time or another, in a random act of kindness. Does anyone know where or how it started? Well, thanks to Google I can share that it “started in a Sausalito, California, restaurant in 1982 when Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat.
“From there it spread to bumper stickers, quietly at first, but with all the powerful momentum of something important–calling us to lives of caring and compassion. Then the book Random Acts of Kindness, true stories of acts of kindness, was published in February 1993 and set off a chain reaction. Articles appeared in nearly every newspaper in the U.S., and hundreds of radio stations devoted airtime to the cause.”
We like doing nice things for others, and we like receiving kindness as well. Years ago, a gentleman paid for our dinner while we were traveling to Oregon for my grandmother’s funeral. When I was serving as laity at Faith Springs UMF we used to stand outside of the grocery store in July and hand out cold bottles of water. We would go to the park and offer to wash people’s windshields, for free!
Several years ago, one of our church members would go to Nellis Airforce Base and go to the commissary. He was retired military and he would look for a family who was grocery shopping. He knew how difficult it was to feed a family on a private’s pay. He would get in line behind them and when the total came, he would step up and pay for their groceries. Random. Kind. A blessing to be a blessing.
I used to send valentine cards to my single women friends and sign “love Jesus” on them. Several times when I went to the drive through at Starbucks, I paid for the person behind me. I asked on Facebook what people had done. One person said they gave cookies to policemen and it made their hearts smile. Someone else said they like to pay for meals at restaurants, especially military families. Once I took donuts to the nurses at St. Rose Sienna on Valentine’s Day.
What kinds of things have you done?
Sometimes doing a random act of kindness means slowing down enough to recognize someone is in need, and then doing something about it. Often that means stepping outside of our comfort zone.
Jesus models this type of kindness in our scripture today. As they were gathering for the Passover meal, that meal that would become their “Last Supper” together, Jesus took on the role of a servant and did what the hired help should have done. He got down on the floor with a basin of water and a towel wrapped around his waist and washed the feet of his friends.
I don’t know about you, but that would have been shocking to see, and even more shocking to personally experience. Imagine what that might have been like. Jesus Christ, the man you have come to believe is the Son of God is washing your feet. I’m sure thoughts like, “I’m not worthy!” would ring in your head. Please Lord, let me take care of you. Let me wash your feet, let me pour fragrant oil on your head and treat you with great reverence.
But that wasn’t what was happening. Jesus became the servant and served each of the guests at the banquet. It would be confusing at minimum and shocking at best. But Jesus likes to shock us, doesn’t he?
He took ordinary traditions and made them into something new. He hung out with people who were outcasts, those who were known “sinners,” and with people that no self-respecting Jew would associate with. Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers, Roman Centurions. Jesus didn’t pay much attention to the labels we put on people. He sees all of us as his beloved. We are all simply humans, made in God’s image. Trying to do our best to love God and to love one another.
Jesus was sent here to bring us a message. We don’t have to do or be anything special to be loved by God. In fact, it seems that those of us who are the biggest hot messes, are those he loves the most! What a relief that we don’t have to be all polished and new to be loved by God. God takes us as we are; messed up, and trying our best, and welcomes us into the family of God.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to give us an example of what we are to do here, now, in our communities, in our families and in the world beyond. We are to step into the role of a servant and serve others. When we selflessly put the needs of others before our own we can make this world a better place. We become better people when we work to “support the dreams, goals and loving acts of other people.” When we help others, they may be inspired to help someone else too. We can begin a tsunami of kindness with the small act of service to others.
Jesus wants us to know that he has given this act of kindness, this token of hospitality, as an example for us to follow. Rarely does Jesus do something that doesn’t have great significance. This was no afterthought. Jesus was intentional about teaching his disciples how they were to serve after he was gone.
The video that began this message pointed out that there are enormous benefits to helping, to putting the needs of others ahead of our own. What are the ways that we can do that here and now? I see so many kindnesses expressed within our congregation that it brings a smile to my heart.
People helping others with rides to doctor’s appointments, encouragement when they’re feeling down, get well cards, prayer shawls, the list goes on and on. Just this week Leesha had surgery for thyroid cancer and several of you brought gifts, cards, and stayed with her at the hospital and after she was released and recuperating at Myra’s home. Many of you have sent the same love to Brian Fox as he has been battling cancer. And then there’s Miss Nancy. She has been blessed by so many of you with your kindnesses – flowers, gifts, cards, visits and more.
If you’re looking for a way to serve God by serving others, if you want to get your own serotonin up and feel that overwhelming goodness that comes from giving of yourself, there are numerous things you can do. One for sure is to volunteer this week to visit Nancy. Marge has let me know that her daughter Marcia could use a break. We’d like to have one person go over every day for 1-2 hours to allow Marcia to get out of the house and restore herself.
Caregiving is challenging, it can be exhausting, and most caregivers don’t think of themselves very much. You see most caregivers are imitators of Christ and give of themselves without concern for their own wellbeing. As an act of kindness, those of us who see caregivers overdoing it, we must step in and shower them with kindness and love. That is what Jesus is asking of us.
To be like Jesus we must submit to servanthood. We must join the ranks of the lowest of the low and be gracious in our giving to others. The tie that binds us all together is acts of kindness that allows us to lift up one another.
(Jeff, begin playing video: https://youtu.be/tGSUjuSBt1A)
Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to demonstrate an act of kindness to someone else. Walk someone’s dog, wash a neighbors car, smile at strangers and watch their face light up. What else could you do?
This is your mission! I have white strips of fabric with a little instruction on it. When you have done your act of kindness, write a word or phrase that describes what you did. Then bring them back next week and we will tie them together in love. Amen.