Come and Follow
Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 19, 2010
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I reflect on our scripture for today from Romans, I hear the words in the song “The Summons” by John Bell: Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
What does it mean to come and follow? Paul was called, set apart, and he responded in obedience. We are all called, set apart, to respond in obedience with the love and grace provided through Jesus Christ.
When I was commissioned a deaconess in The United Methodist Church, the full reality of where God may send me and what I may do was a mystery to me. After six years it is still a mystery, and this is OK, as my trust in God is no mystery. God became real to me through the witness and testimony of my mother and all whom she served with as a deaconess at Open Door Community House (a National Mission Institution) in Columbus, Ga. It was not in what she did but how she allowed the love of the living Christ to shine through her. To truly love Christ we must love all whom he loves. This means loving all, as Jesus loves each of us uniquely. This goes beyond just loving our neighbors—it is recognizing that all our neighbors and each person has a special, valued and unique relationship with Christ.
This is the season that we eagerly anticipate each year: the birth of Christ our Savior. What a time of love and joy made real! It has been more than 33 years since my mother’s commissioning as a deaconess in response to her calling and three months since her passing from this world. During an evening in the hospital, my mother shared with me her gratitude to United Methodist Women for the support and care provided to her in her struggle with cancer and the concern that she had for all the health care expense that was provided for by the support of United Methodist Women through the Call to Prayer and Self-Denial. I reminded my mother that she dedicated her life in service in this world and that now she was part of the gift of allowing others to be in service. With tears, she said, “But I would have done it all for free.” When we are in ministry for Christ we receive so much more then we can ever give.
On this day of Advent, I give thanks for my mother, for United Methodist Women and all who give their lives daily reflecting God’s love in action.
Let us pray:
God of Love and Mercy,
How great is your majesty. We strive to be your humble servant and allow the Living Christ to shine through us. May your love surround and strengthen all who face struggles at this time and open us to give freely from the abundance of love you have provided. Accept and use us for your will. Amen.
Becky Dodson Louter, Deaconess, is executive secretary for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner Program.