We come to the final reason given in the Introductory words for setting aside time for Morning Prayer:
“We have come… to seek his grace, that, through his Son, Jesus Christ, we may give ourselves to his service.”
One of the purposes of coming to meet God every day is to be equipped for service. Note that we cannot undertake any work effectively for God unless we have first received something of his grace. The story Jesus told about the Vine and the Branches makes this abundantly clear:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.John 15. 5-7
Jesus expresses this need to be “in the vine” very starkly – it’s not that doing things in our own strength will be less successful than if God blesses us, rather he identifies our inability to do anything of lasting value without maintaining that connection. He links this with the promise that if we abide in his love, our prayers will be rooted in his Will and will be effective. Sometimes I wonder why my life for God is not more successful – and I am brought back to this passage – how much am I bearing fruit as a result of being “in the vine”?
Some of us may wonder whether “giving ourselves in service” still applies to us – as many are retired or incapacitated. It is easy to think that we can put our feet up and leave the work to the next generation – but where are they? The early church was born with recognition of the role of both younger and older Christians:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.Acts 2. 17,18
This is not a time to be easy on ourselves, but to ask our Father, what can I do to further the work of the Kingdom within my sphere of influence? We may be surprised by new opportunities – for example, a month ago, I suddenly needed to develop skills in using a video camera to record on-line services. That classic Graham Kendrick song “The Servant King” helps us to remember the example Jesus set us in servanthood, and how we too are called into a life of service for him:
So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we’re serving.
This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow Him,
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
Graham Kendrick, 1983