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Updated: Jan 21, 2020

We use the verb serve in many ways in the English language. The one thing about all the ways we use serve -it is to do something to or for others. The object of serve is always someone or something, but it can also be directed towards ourselves. Let's see what we can come up with as we think of how we use this common word in everyday life.

Here are a few examples:

Definition of serve for Students

served; serving

1: to help people to food or drink or set out helpings of food or drink

2: to be of use: answer some purpose; the lawn serves as our sports facility.

3: to be a servant, a worker for an organisation

4: to give the service and respect due, as in to serve God

5: to be in prison for or during (a period); as in serve a sentence

6: to provide helpful services; as in, our friendly staff will serve you.

7: to be enough for; the pie will serve eight people.

8: to hold an office: perform a duty, I served as club treasurer.

9: to perform a term of service; he served in the RAAF.

10: to furnish with something needed or desired; there is no grocery store to serve the area.

11: to put the ball or shuttlecock in play (as in tennis, volleyball, or badminton); to serve the ball

12: to be deserved; — serve someone right; you didn't study, so if you fail the test it will serve you right.

God comes to us and He serves us; while we were his enemy and full of sin, God sent His Son to die to save us. God loved us first and came to bring us life that is better than we have a right to and could ever experience. He brings us the power to live a life where love and all that comes with it is experienced daily. Not everyone around us has that power of life within them and not everyone has love; as a result, we suffer as Christ suffered. We too serve by carrying our cross, by turning the other cheek and by continuing to walk humbly without anger or resentment towards those who live in the darkness still. We serve them by praying for them, for our neighbours and for our school friends who make fun of us when we refuse to do as they do.

The love of Christ in the world is seen vividly in serving; in the way, Christian organisations give to the poor, the starving, the displaced persons, those injured in natural disasters and those who have been hurt and abused in our community through domestic violence, and drug abuse. How do we serve? Who do we serve? When do we serve? Why do we serve? What does it look like to serve? These questions are only a starting point as we begin to understand a whole new area in Lutheran Schools entitled SERVICE LEARNING.

What is service learning?

Service learning in Lutheran schools

Service is faith active in love. Service involves the selfless giving and loving of others, making a difference in their lives by responding to their needs, and acting without expecting recognition or reward. A Lutheran school challenges students to grow in their understanding that service is not only a personal response to God’s love but a broader response as part of one’s humanity for the sake of justice for all.

Therefore, students in a Lutheran school learn about serving and learn through serving. This concept is known as service learning. [LEA Service learning in Lutheran schools]

Service learning in Lutheran schools

Definitions for Service Learning Inquiry

Knowing, and learning are continually shaped by the question,

§ ‘How does this serve the needs of the world?’ and the answer will be appreciatively different from knowing not accompanied by such a question. [Tom Christenson 2004 p 126 The Gift and Task of Lutheran Higher Education]

§ ‘…ensures students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organised service experiences that meet actual community needs and are coordinated in collaboration with the school and the community.’

§ ‘…integrates intentionally into students’ academic curriculum and provides structured time for a student to think, talk, or write about their participation throughout the service experience.’ [Keith Wilson September 2010, NSLA Newsletter October 2010]

§ Service learning goes beyond service to the community. Students advance their skills and knowledge through this experiential method of teaching. The community becomes a classroom. [Adapted from]

§ Some clarity... Community service ... if students clean up a degraded water catchment, they are providing a service to the community as volunteers.

§ Service learning ... if students clean up degraded water catchment, then analyse what they found, share the results with the community, offer suggestions to reduce waste ... that’s service learning

§ Service learning is not: • An episodic volunteer program • An add-on to an existing school or college curriculum • Logging a set number of community service hours to graduate • Compensatory service assigned as a form of punishment by the courts or by school administrators • Only for high school or college students • One-sided: benefiting only students or only the community

In looking at SERVE as our theme, we will be exploring the positive impact we can have on the lives of others and how others support us in making our own lives better too. God invites us to understand that constructive, healthy relationships support us in becoming our best selves. Where individuals help each other, and build community based on God's love for them, celebrated and shared actively with each other, we have opportunity to grow and thrive. God created people to help each other and to provide us with companionship to enjoy the awesomeness of the world he gave us. He also gave us gifts and talents that are unique and varied in order that all people can participate in the life of his creation to their fullest capacity and care for it.

God as creator set the bar for creativity, innovation and sustainability in that he made a world full of interconnectedness, diversity, beauty, and imagination so much so that we still don't know how everything works after thousands of years of life. Scientists are constantly making new discoveries which help us to achieve better health and achieve outcomes that are beyond the wildest dreams of people just a few decades ago. God continues to serve us in love as he sustains the created order, even as we continue to pollute the world, taking from the earth minerals and resources he placed there for our good and wise use.

I encourage all staff, students and parents to think about the startling effect each person has on the people around them? God calls humanity the pinnacle of creation and even gave his own Son, Jesus, to invite us back into the relationship with Him that existed before Adam and Eve rebelled against Him. God is love and it is available to us all through Jesus.

Living your Life for Jesus

The message we hear from all forms of media today is that we should search for our own happiness. That is what life is all about. Spend the money, go out and have fun, enjoy every new pleasure and product because you deserve it. Everything revolves around self-fulfilment and my own family and nothing else matters if we are happy. That's the main thing! Other people can have what we have if they get off their backside and work for it like we have. We are not lucky, we have made the effort and have done the hard work to get where we are. Why should we share it with others! They have the same opportunities in life that we have. Of course, we feel sorry for people who suffer due to natural disasters etc. And we are fine with donating a few dollars here and there because it makes us feel good.

When people become lovers of themselves and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, there is a problem. Selfishness is the flaw of human nature. In society, today people believe that they have the right to choose everything. Today people are proud of their self-focus, the fact that they have provided so well for their family and that their children have the best of everything the world can offer in the way of material things. However, they forget that the time will come when illness will strike, age will catch up and the children will have learnt their lessons well; we have our own life to lead and have no time to visit you in your aged care home. After all, your money has given you the best place on offer. Enjoy the time you have left; you have had your time, we are now enjoying what you did when you spent your retirement years travelling and away for the family for months on end!

The bible tells us the exact opposite; "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ". (Gal 6:2). We are called to live Christ centred and other centred lives. Love comes from caring for one another and building relationships which enrich life because God has created us for living in harmony with family, friends and acquaintances now and in our Heavenly Home. Self-commitment and self-centredness are fine when our significant others are happy to go along with our wishes, but what happens when that is not the case?

Happy communities are places where people work together and achieve great things that makes their community better. I remember living in a small country town where everyone knew almost everyone else. There was only one school, a shop, a post office, a town hall, a garage/service station, a swimming pool, the town council, a park, an oval with change rooms, a Pub and two churches. The town had maybe 300-400 people and was supported by the surrounding farming community. The farmers helped each other, kids went to school on buses and town sports competitions on Saturdays was the highlight of both footy/netball season and cricket/tennis season. People helped each other carting kids to sport and kids rode their bikes to neighbouring farms to play with other kids. It was a great place in which to grow up.

Broken relationships result in stressed families, children torn between birth parents and difficulties in dealing with living in two homes and even two extended families. Money is in short supply and it is almost impossible to go somewhere or do something without someone getting all bent out of shape about it. Finally, relationships grow more distant as children get older and children move away to study at university or to take up a job in another place, sometimes interstate or overseas. Due to the need for education, career advancement and the nature of work family ties are different to that of our parents and grandparents. Ideas change too and young adults have high expectations of achieving what their parents have and perhaps even more as they see opportunities that were not available to the previous generation. Credit cards and even the way we spend money is different; people can enjoy goods before they are fully theirs. Today life is full of things to do and places to go and also a wider range of choices; shops are open for much longer and... life can be wonderful fun!

Along with that comes the final question of what comes next; a hard one when all of life has been about forgetting the existence of God, yet deep down there is an inbuilt knowledge that really it wasn't a big bang or just a chance accident of nature which created the universe and the world. Perhaps there is even the hope of it all being finished and that there will be no bad outcome after death, but oblivion!

However, our world does challenge us as we see the events happening in it which destroy our sense of security. The is no escaping the fact that while there is a huge number of good things happening in our communities, no one is bullet proof and there are many reasons to believe that we do live in a fallen world of broken people and destructive and at times evil being inflicted on humanity by other people. Where is security to be found? How do we build communities of well-being and conduct lives that are safe, satisfying and bring happiness and contentment? Lives where people care for each other and the community is blessed through service? Who teaches us that and gives us the motivation to share with others and in turn receive goodness freely given?

Where do we learn about how to SERVE in a way which will honour both God and others?

When we have a look around us we see that we really are not the centre of the universe and that life is not all about us. We see that all people have a need to be loved, treated fairly and with compassion and that there is more to life than being in control and getting our own way.

God has provided us with His Word, which has helped and encouraged people since the time of Jesus coming to this earth and taking on the role of teacher, healer, messenger and saviour to take our sin upon himself and purchase all who want it a free entry into Heaven. Amazingly, people today think that anything which does not have a price tag showing its worth must be a scam!! People who have not been brought up in a Christian home, and some who have, find it hard to believe that God exists especially if they are well educated and have done well for themselves by being self made successes in their own estimation.

The Word of God, is a far cry from a fairy tale. The story of salvation has not changed since Jesus. The Bible, though translated into many versions still gives the message God conveyed to humanity 2000 years ago. He sent Jesus to save the world from sin and to restore our relationship with Him. He calls us to follow Him and live in obedience to his Word. He gave his Word to bring life in its fullness to all who will follow Jesus. God knows the things that hurt us in our lives. He knows the pain of broken relationships. He has suffered being estranged from his beloved creation and even from His one and only Son to save us. He sent Jesus and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. God has suffered for us in full measure. He calls us to live in obedience to Him so that He can bless us in this life and bring us safely to the eternal home that He has prepared for us. Can you imagine anyone in this world doing that for you? We hear amazing stories about people from time to time, but nothing like this!

Let's now turn to look at what God tells us in His Word about the verb to serve.

Serving Others from a Biblical perspective.

· 1 Peter 4:10 ESV / 1,928 helpful votes

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

· Acts 20:35 ESV / 1,324 helpful votes

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

· 1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV / 1,155 helpful votes

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

· Galatians 5:13-14 ESV / 696 helpful votes

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

· Matthew 20:28 ESV / 546 helpful votes

"Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

· John 13:12-14 ESV / 490 helpful votes

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

· Mark 10:44-45 ESV / 469 helpful votes

"And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

· Philippians 2:1-11 ESV / 449 helpful votes

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...

· Mark 9:35 ESV / 410 helpful votes

· And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

· Matthew 25:35-40 ESV / 387 helpful votes

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ ...

· Matthew 23:11 ESV / 378 helpful votes

The greatest among you shall be your servant.

· Luke 6:38 ESV / 377 helpful votes

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

· Proverbs 11:25 ESV / 374 helpful votes

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

· Mark 10:45 ESV / 347 helpful votes

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

· Proverbs 19:17 ESV / 325 helpful votes

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

· Matthew 5:16 ESV / 315 helpful votes

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

· 1 John 3:18 ESV / 275 helpful votes

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

· James 2:14-17 ESV / 255 helpful votes

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

· Hebrews 13:16 ESV / 212 helpful votes

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

· Galatians 6:9 ESV / 210 helpful votes

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

· 1 Samuel 12:24 ESV / 195 helpful votes

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

· 2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV / 187 helpful votes

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

· Ephesians 2:10 ESV / 164 helpful votes

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

· Romans 12:9-13 ESV / 159 helpful votes

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

· 1 Corinthians 9:19 ESV / 158 helpful votes

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.

· Luke 6:27-45 ESV / 152 helpful votes

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ...

· Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV / 136 helpful votes

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

· Philippians 2:1-4:23 ESV / 130 helpful votes

So, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...

· Galatians 6:2 ESV / 126 helpful votes

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

· Philippians 2:4 ESV / 119 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

· Romans 15:1 ESV / 111 helpful votes

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

· Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV / 104 helpful votes

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

· Matthew 25:40 ESV / 102 helpful votes

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

· Proverbs 14:21 ESV / 102 helpful votes

Whoever despises his neighbour is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Question: "What opportunities are there for Christian service?"

Any service that reflects Jesus’ love is “Christian service.” From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world.

The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service: show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Some examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as the act is done “in Jesus’ name”—that is, it is motivated by the love of Jesus—it is Christian service.

There are thousands of organizations outside the church committed to serving others. Homeless shelters, housing builders, and food banks always need volunteers and donations. Internationally, organizations like Compassion International and World Vision provide food, clothing, and education for children in sometimes dangerous situations. Other organisations like Lutheran World Service provide water, micro-loans, or resources such as farm animals to enable the child’s family to generate their own income.

There are many opportunities for those specifically educated in theology. Chaplains serve hospitals, military bases, and shipping ports. Missionaries travel overseas to plant churches and train indigenous pastors. Parachurch ministries provide biblical guidance for families and others in need. Internet ministries like Got Questions are always in need of those who can explain the truth of God in a loving, easy-to-understand way.

The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their daily actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others—not sentimentally, but in concrete ways. All action done out of kindness, powered by the understanding of Christ and His love, is Christian service. Showing kindness in the playground, being a friend and being kind to everyone are all acts of service. Jesus calls us to be salt and light and that happens when we serve others in our words and actions.

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