“Let not the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours.”

John Wesley wrote these words of the succession of the leadership of Israel from Moses to Joshua. In my sermon preparation last week, that statement caught my attention. I love that the hands pictured above are holding a cup. You can see the lifetime of the usefulness of these hands; hands that are continuing to be spent, even as they wither, in the most sacred of activities. These hands have been useful not because they have been on display, but because of what they have done and displayed for God and for others. These hands have been useful because they are the hands of one whose life has been spent in serving, not being served.

“Let not the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours.”

From what I was told, when Papaw died he was found with three fence posts in one hand and the hammer he was using to drive them into the ground in the other hand. Papaw’s hands were calloused from hard work…good work…the holy work of tilling the ground, caring for God’s creation, and giving back to God what was already God’s and to neighbor what was needed. As I observe my hands while typing, I notice my hands are far less calloused and in need of being strengthened for the holy work still to be done in my life for God and those around me.

“Let not the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours.”

The burden/cup of leading God’s people to the next level was passed from the most useful, tried, and trustworthy hands of Moses into the younger hands of Joshua who dared to trust that God would do what he said he would in bringing them to a land he had promised long ago. Many of us have a great inheritance of something done by the most useful hands in bringing us out of difficult situations into just within grasp of something greater than what our ancestors ever could have imagined. May we respond with boldness and trust like Joshua who was told, “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


Sunday was my first go at leading Post Oak & Liberty in the sacrament of Holy Communion. It was really enjoyable to be able to guide the congregations in confessing sin and repenting, declaring the good news of forgiveness in the name of Christ, and expressing tokens of reconciliation as Christ would be present in the meal we shared together.

As I am in the midst of a series on “New Beginnings,” I read the Scriptural text of Luke 24:13-35, where the story of the walk on the road to Emmaus is recounted. Jesus joined two disciples who were walking along still puzzled by the events that had taken place, primarily of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus and the alleged report that he was alive again. The new beginning for these disciples was that Christ led them out of confusion into clarity of the identity and mission of the Messiah, who had to suffer before entering into victory (24:26).


But even as their eyes were beginning to open and their hearts were burning within them, they still were unable to fully recognize Jesus until they had invited him to share the evening with them and after he took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them.

This Scripture passage leads quite well into the liturgy of the Service of Word and Table found in the United Methodist Hymnal & Book of Worship. The liturgy begins: “Christ our Lord invites…”

This notion of invitation is central to this passage of Scripture as well as the liturgy of Holy Communion. When we hear and read the story in Luke’s Gospel, our ears and eyes are alerted to the fact that the disciples urgently invited Jesus to stay with them in Emmaus and have fellowship rather than continuing on the road without them (24:28-29). But while the text speaks of their invitation, in reality and underneath the surface we can read that Jesus was inviting them all along. He met them on their road of confusion, disbelief, and despair, and opened the Scriptures (and their minds) to the reality of the suffering Messiah who would conquer death by death in order to bring the hope and promise of the resurrected life. That long walk down the road when Jesus revealed to them the nature of his Messianic role of rescuing us from the grip of sin & death was preparing their hearts, minds, and eyes for what they would behold later that day in the breaking of bread.

This is a great example of what John Wesley was speaking about when he wrote of prevenient (or preventing) grace. That is, God’s grace goes before any response or action we take in inviting Christ into our lives and living out his mission in the world. We love because he first loved us. We invite because he first invited us. “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another…”