October 21, 2013

Journeys With Jesus

The church was abuzz with activity. Men in black suits and white shirts hurried into the sanctuary to meet with the pastor. Women in black skirts and white blouses assembled in the kitchen, poured the grape juice, counted the pieces of unleavened bread.

I lingered awhile in the kitchen and then passed through into the sanctuary. Two deaconesses, dressed in white, were folding the cloth that would later cover the emblems—the bread and grape juice. Communion service practice was well under way.

A few minutes later we gathered as deaconesses for our early-morning foot-washing service. We always liked to wash one another’s feet before Sabbath school so our hearts and hands would be prepared to serve our sisters later. What a beautiful time of prayer and singing! Tears were shed. Hearts were humbled. Lives were united just a bit more closely.

Communion is a beautiful experience. A holy time. A sacred reflection of all that Jesus has done and all that He yet longs to do. To be totally honest, however, I have to admit that it’s also a busy time. Sometimes my mind is so filled with the details of the day and the needs that arise that I forget to sit and savor the experience. Forget to reflect and remember. Forget to keep my focus on Him.

This particular Sabbath my focus realigned midway through the actual Communion service. Foot washing over, we had just reassembled for the partaking of the emblems.

My husband, Greg, and I sat toward the front. The pastor motioned for the six deacons to stand and approach the table. They stood, three on a side. Suddenly I noticed Mr. Andrew,* one of the deacons, standing beside the ordinances. He was one of our newer deacons in the church. In fact, he and his wife had been members of our church for only a few years. They had been dedicated Christians of another denomination but had been convicted about the Sabbath—and other truths—and had joined the Adventist Church. 

They were a gracious, classy couple, in spite of the encroachments of advancing age and struggles with their health. In fact, Mrs. Andrew hadn’t been able to attend church for quite a while. Mr. Andrew had severe pain in both his legs, accompanied by balance issues. Yet here he was, willingly taking part in the service. Desiring to serve Jesus the best way he could.

Just then we all knelt for prayer while the elders blessed the bread and grape juice. I worried about Mr. Andrew. What if he fell getting down? Could he handle the pain of kneeling?

As I watched him struggle to his knees and imagined the pain he felt, my eyes blurred with tears. I’m afraid I missed most of the prayer, but I watched one lived out instead. What an example! What a servant’s heart! What a picture of Jesus!

One of the deacons helped Mr. Andrew to his feet. He received his tray of bread and grape juice. He couldn’t hold it at the same angle as the other deacons, but he managed to keep his grasp on it as he served with grace and dignity.

All day his example lingered like a sweet fragrance in my mind, while the Holy Spirit brought conviction to my heart. Are you ready to serve, Jill? Even at the cost of personal comfort? Even when it hurts? Even to life itself? 

I pondered that conviction, and then surrendered: Here am I, Lord, send me (Isa. 6:8).

* not his real name