With All That I Have

I have done my last wedding for the season. It was a beautiful fall day on the beach in Corolla, and I was blessed to marry a “sister of the cloth” to a very nice man. She is a retired United Methodist pastor from the Michigan conference, and their small family came to stand with them as they exchanged vows.

It is uncommon anymore for people to want to write their own vows. Nowadays, folks seem to be content with the traditional ones, or perhaps don’t want the stress and worry of writing something and having to remember it on a day that is already fraught with anxiety. Indeed, it is easier on the nerves to rely on the pastor for the ”repeat after me” vows. But this couple wrote their own vows and they were stunningly beautiful.

As we progressed to the exchange of the wedding rings, we got to a “repeat after me” moment. I have a tender fondness for the ring vows in the United Methodist wedding service. Truth be told, there is one phrase that makes me tear up every time:

I give you this ring
as a sign of my vow,
and with all that I am,
and all that I have,
I honor you;
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

There is something very poignant in the words “With all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you”. To make that commitment is a bold and audacious thing. It tells the other person that you promise that nothing will ever be withheld from them. It affirms that there is no part of your personhood that will be shared with anyone else. It says that you are “all in,” and they can count on you for the rest of their life. It is a precious commitment.

In our passage from Mark today, notice how a poor widow demonstrated to Jesus that she was “all in”:

Mark 12 (The Message)

38-40 He continued teaching. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

Are you all in for Jesus? Are you willing to say to him that with all that you are, and all that you have, you will honor him? Have you committed your time, your talent, your resources, your giving, and your future to the furthering of his kingdom?

Jesus calls us to a covenant relationship that will outlast even our earthly ones. Are you all in? He is.

Nothing Withheld by Michelle Robertson

All In

There was a time in the late 1990’s when the World Series of Poker took over people’s imagination. It was a clever production on ESPN, with under-the-table cameras revealing people’s cards, overhead cameras showing the entire table and chip count, flashy graphics, and lively play-by-play commentary. It was where viewers learned the phrase “all in.” All in refers to when a player with a great hand pushes all of his or her chips across the table at once, betting their entire winnings on one single hand in a go-for-broke moment.

We continue our study of John 13 today as we dive deeper into the Last Supper. The moment has arrived when Jesus decides to wash the feet of his disciples. It was a shocking moment for them. Foot washing was a common practice of hospitality in that time. Hosts would often offer this service with a basin and towel to travelers who had walked long, dusty roads. But for Jesus, their teacher, rabbi, and master to perform such an act was startling, to say the least.

What exactly was Jesus doing?

John 13 (The Message)

13 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

It was a lesson in both humility and leadership. Jesus was setting the example of servant leadership by kneeling before his followers and performing this act of grace. He was teaching them that their role in the kingdom would be to do likewise…to love his followers, to care for their needs, and to never let their position overshadow the mission.

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

Peter comes out of his initial confusion with a proclamation of wanting to be all in for Jesus. Once he figures out what is happening, he pushes his chips across the table and wagers his entire being on that single act of grace.

How about you? Are you all in for Jesus? Or are you withholding something?

Many of us want to live lives that are sold out to his mission, but truth be told, there is some withholding going on. We hold back our resources, ignoring the call to tithe. We hold back our service, busying ourselves with pleasure pursuits. We hold back our openness to the marginalized. We hold back our unconditional love and judge others who offend or frighten us. In the end, very few of us are truly all in.

Today is a day to change that. When you figure out what it is that you are withholding from God, let go of it in the name of Jesus. It is never too late to push it all across the table and give it up for the kingdom.

Jesus calls us to be part of everything he is doing.

A Gift From My Mother