Psalm 89:11-15 & 19-26 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
The scriptures are jam packed with references to hands and feet.
God walks with Adam in the Garden of Eden and makes garments of skin for Adam and Eve.
Moses’ feet take him and the people of Israel through the desert for 40 years. Moses stretched out his hands to open the Red Sea.
David raises his hand to praise God.
Jesus walks though Palestine for three years preaching – laying healing hands on folks to cure them of demon possession, leprosy, blindness, deafness and a variety of illnesses.
Jesus stretches out his hand to calm the storm, then walks on water.
Yet he submits himself to have his feet washed by Mary and dried with her hair.
Later he washes the feet of his disciples.
In the greatest submission in History on Good Friday, he allows spikes to be driven through his hands and his feet.
While it appears that this great sacrificial act means he will no longer use his feet to take the Good News to the people or his hands to heal people, it was that very fastening of hands and feet that brought ultimate healing for all of us.
Finally, in an upper room, the pierced hands and feet served as proof for the disciples that through death comes life.
The Psalms also make many references to hands and feet and more importantly to their actions. Think of Psalm 23, for example, where God walks with us and holds us up no matter what the circumstance.
In Psalm 89 God’s hands are symbolic of his glory but also his power and might in action. This psalm also refers to King David being a bearer or carrier of God’s strength. Why? Because he has overcome adversity and has remained a faithful servant. The baton has also been ‘handed’ on to us – in the foot race of life.
Like David, we will sometimes drop the baton from our hand or stumble and fall from our feet but we get up and continue the race with our hands and feet.
1 Corinthians 12 also talks about hands and feet. But they are spoken of in terms of the body of Christ – the Church.
Here the message is not just about using our hands and feet in order to be empowered faithful servants like David, but to consider their part in the corporate nature of our faith in our coming together.
In the church we all have an important part to play. We cannot fully function without each other and without each person doing his/her bit. No one part of the body has precedence because it doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen very well without each person’s actions working together.
Think about it, just to get today’s service to even happen effectively we needed the chairs put out [and stacked away after the service], someone to open up the church and clean the floors and the toilets. We have:
- flower arrangers,
- collection counters,
- someone to bank the offerings,
- someone or a number of people on music,
- a service leader,
- someone to create the powerpoint display
- a church safety officer
- property maintenance people,
- people who work in the kitchen,
- other putting the newsletter together,
- someone to preach and preside,
- a Bible reader,
- someone looking out for the kids,
- sound and projection technicians,
- someone to decorate the church
- people who set up for Holy Communion and
- someone to lead prayers.
I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone.
Oh…. Yes…. And also a congregation.
Why do we do it?
Is it duty that draws up primarily or is it a desire to honour God, to impact his people to go out and serve the world?
The answer is probably yes – but, as we read in the next chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, the overriding principle is LOVE. Love draws the church’s hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth, knees and heart together to form a church that becomes so much more than merely the sum of its parts.
This week, each time you use your hands and feet. Think about how you are using them to build God’s church in Kiama-Jamberoo and individually how you are using them to serve his creation.
I’ll leave you this morning with this story I first heard many years ago, which may help you think about your hands and God’s hands and heart for you and me.
by Melinda Clements
Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.
When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if he was OK.
Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK.
He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,” I explained to him.
“Have you ever looked at your hands,” he asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making. Grandpa smiled and related this story:
“Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shrivelled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.
“They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.
“They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.
“As a child my Mother taught me to fold them in prayer.
“They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.
“They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.
“They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.
“They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.
“Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.
“They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my Parents and Spouse and walked my Daughter down the aisle.
“Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plough off of my best friend’s foot.
“They have held children, consoled neighbours, and shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand.
“They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.
“They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.
“And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
“These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life.
“But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home.
“And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch his face.”
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my Grandpa’s hands and led him home.
When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I think of Grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.