Thoughts on John 13

I’m speaking today in our Women’s Sunday School class about practical ways to minister to each other. I read this passage from Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott right after my first son was born. I still find it inspiring and convicting all at the same time. It’s the best example of practical ministry I’ve ever heard.

Then something truly amazing happened. A man from church showed up at our front door, smiling and waving to me and Sam, and I went to let him in. He is a white man named Gordon, fiftyish, married to our associate pastor, and after exchanging pleasantries he said, ” Margaret and I wanted to do something for you and the baby. So what I want to ask is, What if a fairy appeared on your doorstep and said that he or she would do any favor for you at all, anything you wanted done around the house that you felt too exhausted to do by yourself and too ashamed to ask anyone else to help you with?”

“I can’t even say,”  I said. “It’s too horrible.”

But he finally convinced me to tell him, and I said it would be to clean the bathroom, and he ended up spending an hour scrubbing the bathtub and toilet and sink with Ajax and lots of hot water. I sat on the couch while he worked, watching TV, feeling vaguely guilty and nursing Sam to sleep. But it made me feel sure of Christ again, of that kind of love. This, a man scrubbing a new mother’s bathtub, is what Jesus means to me. As Bill Rankin, my priest friend, once said, spare me the earnest Christians.

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Amen to that. And Lord, spare me from being an earnest Christian.

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