One of my favorite childhood stories was “The Little Red Hen”. If you are unfamiliar with the fable or forgot how it goes, the Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from the barnyard animals to plant it, but they all refuse. As the story proceeds through watering, harvesting, threshing, and making bread, the hen repeatedly asks, “Who will help me?” But with each request, the response of the barnyard animals is the same. “Not I.” Finally the hen has completed her project and asks who will help her eat the fresh baked bread. Now all of the previous non-participants eagerly volunteer to consume the product. However, she refuses to share with them because none of them helped her with the work and she proceeds to eat the bread with her chicks.
As a child, I never questioned the ending of this story. It made perfect sense to me—if you don’t want to help with the work, you don’t get to enjoy the outcome or have any say in it. It is true that God calls us to be generous and gracious to those in need, but we also need to pitch in when there’s work to be done. Maybe you are critical of the Little Red Hen for not being more hospitable to her barnyard friends, but it seems to me that maybe they needed to learn a lesson.
Four years ago, the theme and focus of this editorial page was changed to “Not So With You” based on Mark 10:43. The disciples were arguing among themselves about who would be greater in Jesus’ kingdom when He sees that they need to be taught a lesson as well. Jesus deviates from common thinking and says, “Not so with you. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The staff and consistory are reading a book written by Francis Chan called “Letters to The Church”. Throughout the book Chan looks at today’s church and questions if God had his way, what would our churches look like. One of the chapters is devoted to the mandate to be servants. He writes, “At the core of our faith is the belief that Almighty God humbled himself to serve us and die for us. At the root of our calling is a command to imitate him by serving one another. After washing the disciples feet, Jesus commanded them to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). But on any given Sunday what percentage of “Christians” show up eager to serve others? It’s no secret that most people who attend church services come as consumers rather than servants.”
In my opinion, the Little Red Hen had a servant heart. She didn’t complain about the work that needed to be done, or shame the animals that didn’t want to help, or avoid the work altogether like her barnyard companions. She simply asked others to join her in the work.
For the past several months, I’ve been involved in the process of recruiting volunteers. I have searched for greeters, care shepherds, contact people for serve groups, praise team members, people to run video, operate the projection system, design worship slides, work in the nursery, serve coffee on Sunday mornings, serve meals, and more. My requests have found many servant hearts and many Not I’s. Sometimes I am guilty of being like the Little Red Hen and trying to do all the work myself, but I can’t. Nobody can. We need each other.
We all are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it. You can read more about that in 1 Corinthians 12:12-17. Would you consider playing your part in 2019? I know many Little Red Hens that would be grateful.