“We have Biblical authority for believing that it is ‘more blessed to give than receive’ but what the Bible does not point out is that it is more difficult to receive than to give!”
~C.S Lewis from a letter to Vera Mathews, April 26th, 1949
I've preached a fair amount of sermons in my short call as a minister. While I still get a few “butterflies in my stomach” before standing behind the pulpit, the opportunity reminds me I that, for whatever reason, am comfortable in the position of standing in the public eye. However, those who know me better can attest to the fact that I recoil when being singled out, particularly when it comes to receiving any sort of praise or accolades.
For me, it just seems odd to receive anything. I much prefer to be the person giving recognition to someone else. I’m not sure if I’ve always been like this? Maybe others who have known me longer could share some not so flattering stories about me! Yet, since becoming a minister the sense to always be the one that gives is palatable and most often self-imposed. Mentors and seminary professors have taught me the importance of self-care, but let’s just say old habits die hard.
I was reminded of my welcomed uneasiness this past week. Lauren and I were graciously treated to two “baby showers” put together by two different communities we are part of; our church and some of my fellow classmates at Wake Divinity and Lauren’s co-workers. People turned out to support us by buying and making food and gifting us with LOADS of first-time parents necessities (I am now the personal owner of butt paste and a snotsucker…it’s for the baby, not me). We sat in front of groups of people as they watched us unwrap presents and gobble up desserts. All eyes are on you and there is no escape.
I should say, there is no escape…from the outpouring of compassion, affection, and love. And for those reasons, I count us fortunate.
In John’s Gospel account Jesus is meeting with his disciples for the last time. They have shared a meal together, bread was broken and wine was poured. Then Jesus stands up, removes his outer robe, and ties a towel around himself. He then makes his way toward each disciple, washing each of their feet (even Judas…take a few minutes and let that sink in). Peter, one of the inner three, protests, exclaiming it should be I doing this to you Lord. Jesus explains to all present, I’m demonstrating a way of life I want you to live. If I your Lord and teacher do this for you, you should see that I mean for you to do the same for each other. By doing this you will be blessed.
When we allow others to wash our feet or be a blessing to us we are allowing the way of Jesus to manifest itself in the world. The veil between heaven and earth is made thinner, and God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.
That is why I was uncomfortable this past week. When you come in contact with something holy, such as an outpouring of blessing, it’s enough to make you squirm and attempt to look away. The prophet Isaiah hit the ground and covered his face when he envisioned the Lord in the Temple. When people hand you a swaddling cloth, a pair of tiny socks, or a book you’ll read to your daughter as she grows up…your face hits the ground like Isaiah’s because you see the good in this world and it’s almost too much to bear.
And like Peter, you’ll want to return the favor.
Lauren and I thank you all for your love and support.
As you were,