Looking and Listening for Opportunities

Seeing and Listening for Opportunity to

I took a little vacation this past weekend.  It had been 4 years since I had seen the beach.  Unless you don’t like sand, salt water, seaweed, creatures under the water you can’t see, and people wearing swimsuits they should never ever consider wearing – then 4 years is just too long or it may be just right.  I tend to visit other churches when I am on vacation just to see what others are doing to reach people.  This church happened to be one of the larger churches in the area.  I was a little early and so I  started putting some volunteers through a gauntlet of questions about the church.  “What is the church’s denominational background?”  “How do people find community?”  “How do you split up your small groups?” … you know, the “typical” questions a guest wants to know.  I wandered around the halls for a few minutes and checked out some of their meeting spaces, then made my way into the auditorium.

Sitting down on the edge of a row, I was approached by an older gentleman who I could tell was a bit flustered.  Dean immediately looked at me and said, “Can you help?”  In his hand he was holding a layout of the auditorium and the names of men, several that had been scribbled through.  A quick glance at this piece of paper, paired with his frustration I figured I knew what he needed and so I asked him, “Are you short an usher?”  He quickly answered about how one of the men had simply not shown up and two others had called in sick.  So I asked him, “How do you need me to serve, by taking up offering or serving the Lord’s Supper?”  He looked at me and what seemed like shouting exclaimed, “There are your FIFTEEN service plates ready with the elements!”  15 plates!  This stack of service plates (you know those super shiny plates that hold the little cups of juice) was so tall I couldn’t even see over it as I carried it!

It brings joy to your heart to serve people who will never know who you are or that you even exist.

Don’t blame Dean for not knowing that I was a visitor or for not introducing himself (thank goodness he had on a name badge), like I said, it was a huge church and he was beyond frustrated.  It wasn’t fair to him that I recognized his situation and knew the words to say.  But that is the point – I recognized his situation and knew how to take care of it.  He didn’t have to know me and I didn’t need to know him, we were brothers serving Christ and by serving him and serving their church, I was serving Jesus.  I harp all the time on making sure you listen to the stories of others and be on the lookout to bless and serve others.  The stories don’t have to be long and drawn out to know how you can jump in and serve.

How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?

Please don’t read this and see it as a need for a pat on my back.  I have missed opportunity after opportunity to practice what I preach.  This time I recognized it and jumped on the opportunity to be used.  Jesus listened to those around Him and responded to their needs by serving them. Even if their stories are short or untold, Jesus came to serve.  In Luke 8, a woman simply touches the hem of Jesus’s cloak, He responds to her so gently and serves her.  Don’t miss that she touched his cloak while Jesus was going to heal Jarius’s daughter. The gospels are full of Jesus listening to stories and responding to people by serving them.  Remember, we are created to do good works in and through Jesus and those good works are prepared for us in advance (1 Corinthians 2:10).  Keep your eyes open and listen to people, they will tell you how to serve them.  How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?

  Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

*Hey, Dean!  Thank you for trusting me to serve you and your church.  It was an honor.

The Lord’s Supper Everyday

The Lord's SupperI need to be extremely clear on something before we get into this.  In 1 Corinthians 11:33 Paul says, “ So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat the Lord’s Supper, wait for one another.”  The Lord’s Supper is meant to be done corporately as a church body.  It is not necessarily meant to be done alone or with just your immediate blood family.  Now that I have made that clear, there is a very practical, everyday way to use the Lord’s Supper.

Eating is a natural rhythm of life, we all do it everyday and most of us eat 3 meals a day.  Now, have you ever considered how normal the elements of the Lord’s Supper are?  Jesus was sitting at the table eating with his disciples when He “took the bread.”  Is there a food that is a part of more meals than bread?  We eat bread with everything!  Bread is at almost every table and on every menu.  How many restaurants give you bread when you sit down to eat; “would you like some more big fat yeast rolls?”  I think that Jesus chose bread specifically because it is so normal.

Jesus chose bread and a cup because they are so normal to our everyday lives.

And then there is the cup.  Don’t get too focused on what is or what isn’t in the cup, remember it is a symbol.  Not too many times do we eat without having something to drink, it is just as everyday as bread.  Jesus is using these elements of the Lord’s Supper for a teaching moment, and then, as recorded in Luke 22, He says, “do this in remembrance of Me.”

The symbolism of the Lord’s Supper is easy to understand, but deep in it’s meaning.  The bread is Christ’s body, broken for us to give us life.  The cup is the wrath of God, God’s anger burns against sin.  The drink inside is Jesus’s blood, that is poured out for the forgiveness of our sin and makes us righteous in Christ.  These symbols are what we are to remember every time we take the Lord’s Supper.  But these elements don’t seem to be all that special, and like we said, we see them almost everyday.  These things, as normal as they are to every day life and as simple as they tell us the gospel, need to be an everyday reminder to us of Christ’s work on the cross, the gospel.

Everyday Remembrance

Let’s put this all together – What would our lives be like if we remembered Jesus and His work on the cross before every meal?  We have all the elements and symbols in front of us, why wouldn’t we remember?  And Jesus did say every time you do this…  Seems to me that I need to be personally thinking about Christ on a daily basis and why not let the elements that Jesus used spur me to think about the gospel – 3 TIMES A DAY!!!

Every time you see bread and a cup, remember Jesus and His gospel.

When we remember Christ’s work on the cross during the Lord’s Supper I divide it into 2 simple sections for our congregation:1)  Jesus died to forgive our sins so we need to allow Him to search our heart for repented sin and 2) Our sins are forgiven because of Jesus so we need to thank Him.  Just think how much closer our relationship with Christ would be if we thought about the gospel and dealt with the 2 issues every time we sat down to eat.  How much more would Christ be on our mind?  How much more would we notice the things of God?  How much more would we seek His Kingdom?  How much more would we be in-tune with what God is doing around us and how we can be used?

 Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014