We’ve talked about making a commitment throughout this series. “Follow Me” is the call we respond to every time we say yes to Jesus. So, this week, once again, we make our commitment to serve. Because we have been healed in so many ways, because we have been claimed and loved and accepted in ways that surprise us even still, we commit to serve in the name of the one who loves like that. Peter’s mother-in-law doesn’t have any lines in this gospel drama, but her witness is strong. As soon as she got to her feet, her first action was to serve. As soon as she came to herself, she didn’t think of herself. She set herself aside in order to serve.
Let us celebrate service today, but not as another call to do more, to give more, to work harder or to fill our overburdened schedules with work. Yes, there is always a call to more service. But instead, let’s celebrate service by saying “thank you.” Who can we thank for service? How can we cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the ones we have gotten used to ignoring, those who have become a part of the background noise of living in the world as it is? A few months ago, we called them “essential workers.” Do we remember that? They were essential, but as a society, we don’t pay them enough, or give them time off, or provide adequate healthcare, or thank them enough.
The specific action of this woman in Mark is skimmed over. We don’t know what she did, how she served. We only know that she did. And that was worth comment for Mark. He could have said, she got up, and she was well. Instead, he had to tell us that her response to this gift was service. Her gratitude was not in words, but in action.
When we begin to celebrate the small and large acts of service of others, we find encouragement and an atmosphere for service for all of us. Let our prayers include reference to the humble servants around us. Let our confession be of how we have overlooked the presence of Christ in a simple act of giving and service in front of us. In a time of reflection during worship, invite those in attendance to think about who has served them recently whom they could thank. And perhaps, they might on about whom they could serve without being told. “She began to serve them.”
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.