Luke 9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
This is the time of the year where my Methodist tradition has what we call a Covenant service. This is an annual re-commitment to follow Jesus. The words are uncompromising: “I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal”. And as we say these words we sense echoes of those first followers of Jesus: “I will follow you, but let me first...” How do we follow Jesus, and cope with the demands of our busy lives? Some of us speak of ‘balancing’ the demands of our faith with the demands of our family and work.
It would seem that Jesus cuts across this, insisting that we follow him as our primary loyalty. This asks that we trust him enough to believe that obeying his will makes us better people. Truth is, following Jesus should make us less selfish, more loving, and generally better members of society. But I need to take the first step of commitment to the Jesus way of life:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
(as used in the Book of Offices of the British Methodist Church, 1936).
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
11 “The Cost of Ministry”
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 77.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.