Thursday, February 7, 2013

the apron of humility

1Pe 5:1-11  Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it--not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock.  And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.  In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.  Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.  And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

In 1 Peter 5:5 we read the encouragement to be clothed with humility. Here this letter borrows an image from the home: the exhortation is “to put on” (Egkomboomai ) – verb more commonly used to describe the act of tying an apron around your waist. We as readers are asked to tie humility around our waists as you would an apron. Humility has to do with aprons. And aprons have to do with service. And service has to do with one person offering to become the servant of another.  And at this point our South African context kicks in because history has seen some being forced to become the servants of others. Black people became the servants of white people; poor people became the servants of the wealthy; the uneducated became the servants of the educated; the weak become the servants of the strong.  And we now live in a newly liberated country where no one wants to be called the servant of another....except for those who follow in the tradition of Jesus.

Jesus speaks of being amongst us as one who serves. He then continues, reminding those who follow him that we are to take the lead in offering service to humanity (Luke 22:25-27).  This is the way of a Jesus follower. For this reason St Paul insists that “all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Peter 5:5 Good news Version).

Prayer: Lord: may I have opportunities to be of service – that I might become more like Jesus. Amen.

 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
The Cost of Ministry
(Scripture reference page 77 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)



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