Whenever we preachers become overly impressed with our own importance and high spiritual station in life; we should remember the bumper sticker someone once came up with: “If all the preachers and all the garbage collectors quit at once, which would you miss first?”
Good point! People are valued by the needs they meet. Rotting garbage is a strong and immediate need. Very few professions would be missed more than garbage collectors.
A physician in a university medical school said that it is often quite difficult to keep the interest of medical students through the long and detailed lecture periods. But this attitude changes dramatically when the students begin to come in contact with patients in the hospital. When they meet people who are suffering, the students become filled with an enthusiasm to learn and serve.
The basic teachings of the Christian faith are to serve others. It doesn’t have to be in full-time vocations or certain church programs. If we find a way to meet the needs of others it is a very satisfying feeling. We feel like we have discovered what we’re made for.
I love what the great Christian teacher, Henri J.M. Nouwen said about service, “What I have to offer to others is not my intelligence, skill, power, influence or connections, but my own human brokenness through which the love of God can manifest itself.” He pointed out that, Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” it says: “Glass shines brighter when it’s broken.”
Some years ago a young mechanic from Chicago went to San Francisco for a vacation. He got drunk, was robbed in an alley and ended up in jail without a penny. In jail he learned of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church where he could get a meal before heading back to Chicago. While he was eating his meal, he noticed a woman cleaning the next table.
He called to her, “When do we get down on our knees lady?”
“You don’t here.”
The young mechanic winks, pulls his red beard and says, “Then when’s the sermon, the lecture, huh?”
“Aren’t any,” she replies.
“What’s the gimmick?” He persists.
She brushes her hair back and points to the Latin inscription over the entrance: CARITATE DEI.
The brash young traveler squints up at it and slurs the unfamiliar words. “What’s it mean, lady?”
“Out of love for God,” she says with a smile and moves to clear another table. (Maxie Dunnam, “Going on to Salvation”, Discipleship Resources)
Prayer: Our Lord, help us to seek to serve others out of love for You. Take our brokenness and make it shine. Amen
The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org