Here’s a thought for Aug. 2

St. Stephen Lutheran Church

Summer is a season for remodeling projects. Some of these happen inside our homes, and some happen outside. We spend weekends doing projects, and some of these projects can take a lot of work. Sometimes these projects are beyond the scope of our ability, and we call in neighbors, friends, or professionals to help us finish the job. In my case, all jobs require extra help!

While we are working on these exterior projects, God is also at work remodeling us. God remodels us to serve others. It seems to me that often when we are challenged by a particular Bible verse, that we often try to take it upon ourselves to change. We try to do the work of remodeling all by ourselves. We feel convicted by a text like Luke 12:35-40: “Be dressed for action and have your lamps litfor the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” We feel guilty for not being ready when the master comes back home. And we try to remedy the situation through the use of our own power.

How much time do we spend trying to remodel ourselves? Weight loss programs, spiritual exercises, therapy. I’m not implying that these things are bad or ineffective, but we do spend a lot of time in our culture trying to do things for the sake of self-improvement. We try do it ourselves. Yet we must keep in mind that God is the professional remodeler; that it is GOD who remodels us, not we ourselves.

When we hear this gospel text talking about the slaves who are always ready, always vigilant, we do try to remodel ourselves. We feel a need to make sure that we are one of those who is ready. We light our lamps. We get dressed for action. But what exactly does having your lamp lit look like? What does it mean to be dressed for action? When I hear the phrase “dressed for action” I imagine myself putting on a skin tight Spider-Man costume, something flexible and light, so I could be ready to do battle with evil-doers everywhere. But then I realize that there aren’t many people who would want to see me in a skin-tight anything, so I’m left at a loss.

We hear about people who have their lamps lit, always vigilant, always waiting for the Lord to come again, but it seems to me that same people in their fervor to hurry up and wait tend to forget about or intentionally ignore the world around them. God remodels us to serve others. I think a big clue to figuring out what it looks like to have your lamp lit and dressing for action comes in this passage text when the master comes home from the wedding feast. What does he do for the slaves who are waiting for him? He serves them a great meal himself. I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that this scene parallels John 13 when Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. The master gives his servants a perfect example of what he expects of them to do to others. What better way to wait for the Lord than to do what God would have us do for others in the first place, namely serving our neighbors in their every need?

And the best news of all is, we don’t do this by ourselves. It is God who works through us to remodel us to do this waiting, to do this serving. Even in times when we fail to serve, when we fail to do what is right, God is at work in us through the Holy Spirit, forgiving our sins and making us whole through the death and resurrection of Christ. So today, let us be reminded that indeed we are remodeled by God to serve others, to build up the temple of the Lord and that the wonderful work of the Lord is ongoing and surrounding us, now and forevermore.