I have been having an email discussion of sorts with a friend concerning the Body of Christ, which started me thinking about songs about servanthood and caring for one another. Like the best spiritual songs, these combine moving music with meaningful words.
The Servant Song
Brother, let me be your servant,
let me be as Christ to you,
Pray that I might have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
we are bothers on the road,
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will weep when you are weeping,
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you,
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.
I will hold the Christ-light for you,
in the night-time of your fear,
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
“Pray that I might have the grace to / Let you be my servant too.” Now this is a thought about servanthood that is profound, that is often ignored by people wanting to be servants. The main point is not in serving others and ignoring your own need to be served, either because you will seem noble and receive kudos or because it seems selfish to be served. Allowing others to serve you is also a grace. They can be Christ to you. Paradoxically Christ is mirrored both those who serve and those who are served (Matt 25:45), but more on that with the third song.
What is there to say about stanza four? I loved it before I even had experienced significant “night-times of fear.” Thank God for loved ones who hold Christ lights and speak God’s peace.
The Servant King
From heaven you came, helpless babe,
Entered our world, your glory veiled;
Not to be served but to serve,
And give Your life That we might live.
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.
There in the garden of tears,
Our heavy load He chose to bear;
His heart with sorrow was torn,
‘Yet not My will But Yours,’ He said.
Come see His hands And His feet,
The scars that speak of sacrifice;
Hands that flung stars Into space
To cruel nails Surrendered.
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 second song is by that great hymn/chorus-meister (I think his songs straddle the line) of the modern church, Graham Kendrick. Other of his stand-outs include: “Shine, Jesus, Shine” (I know you’re likely sick of it, but there is a reason it is sung so much), “Such Love,” and “Meekness and Majesty” (which deserves a post all of its own).
Verse three is my favorite. What an image that is, that the hands in which the entire universe is held together (Col. 1:17) and powerfully upheld (Heb 1:3) have nail prints in them.
He is in the pain, He is in the need
He is in the poor, we are told to feed
Though He was rich, for us He became poor
How could He give so much, what was it for?
In His distressing disguise
He waits for us to surmise
That we rob our brothers by all that we own
And that’s not the way He has shown
Every time a faithful servant serves
A brother that’s in need
What happens at that moment is a miracle indeed
As they look to one another in an instant it is clear
Only Jesus is visible for they’ve both disappeared
He is in the hand that reaches out to give
He is in the touch that causes men to live
So speak with your life now as well as your tongue
Shelter the homeless, take care of the young
In His distressing disguise
He hopes that we’ll realize
That when we take care of the poorest of them
We’ve really done it to Him
This is from Michael Card’s album “Present Reality,” which I believe is focused on the writings of the Apostle Paul. I like to refer to it, though, as the “Catholic Album.” And it is my favorite. This song is in essence focused on Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats and Christ’s statement that whatever we have done for the least of his brothers (and from other passages I take this to be believers and nonbelievers) we have done it unto him. The person who embodied this most pointedly in our times was Mother Theresa.
So, there you have it; three songs that beautifully expound the theology of Christological servanthood, ensconced in lovely melodies.