My wife and I just hosted our annual Epiphany Party. Has little to do with the Epiphany and more to do with the fact that it’s not during the Christmas season. Jan and I love this event because all the staff and leaders in the church are invited to come. We eat and we laugh and we do a gift exchange. I spend time a week or so before the party and find lots of different gifts, and I work on the decorations.
The bigger task is taken on by Jan. She puts together the menu and cooks the food. Well, most of it – our friend, Mike, smoked the awesome brisket. Still, Jan made corn casserole, and dozens upon dozens of deviled eggs, and baked beans from scratch, and a potato dish – all really good. But the hits are always the desserts. We had banana pudding (yum!) and the Pièce de résistance – apple crisp. Everyone loves Jan’s cooking, including me (and my clothing retailer).
When the party was over I jokingly said to Jan, “if you keep cooking like that these people will follow me anywhere!” Of course it’s not important that people follow me as long as we all follow Jesus together. And while I was joking when I said it, the more I thought about it the more I thought I was right, in a non-self-aggrandizing way, of course. And Jesus himself made the point at a dinner thousands of years ago.
Jesus was gathered with his friends for an evening meal. At one point he realized the servant would not be coming to wash their feet (as was the custom back then). So Jesus, the leader of that group, got up, took the water basin and a towel and set about doing the servant’s duty. Jesus was showing his friends how important they were to him, and how important it is to serve others, even as a leader.
I think by hosting that party, with Jan and me doing so much of the work, it helped connect us to the people with whom we serve in the church. As pastor I am asked to lead, but it is not a call to be an authoritarian leader but to be a loving influential leader. Cooking the food and setting the table is an act of service that hopefully shows others how much we value them. I think baking the dessert may just be a lot like washing feet – only more appetizing.
I guess the point of my rambling is that when we seek to love and/or lead others, taking time to serve them in whatever way we can makes a difference. The relationships we build in these cases are priceless and important for the work we do together. I am proud to be the pastor who serves God alongside the staff and leaders of Asbury UMC in Pasadena, TX. One of my greatest joys is throwing that party and taking the time to serve those amazing people. I would bet Jesus felt much the same way even when washing the feet of his friends.
For now, my ramblings end there.
Holy high five to you, Mike