Sunday, December 14, 2008

Notes on Service

We are following the focuses suggested by Mama Squirrel this Christmas season, which she took from the book _Celebration of Discipline_ by Richard Foster, and this week's focus is Service.

(*UPdated to add this article about Gary Sinese, a good example of a true servant [vs. someone who only acts like a servant]. [h/t Bookworm Room] You may remember him as Lt. Dan in the movie, Forrest Gump.

[There are several verses and stories in the Bible about how the humble will receive honor. The funniest part of that is truly humble people don't need the medals. But it is a good reminder for the rest of us. A little list, taken from the Doorposts reference book, _For Instruction in Righteousness_:

Joseph (Gen. 41:14-44)
David (Ps. 78:70-72)
Ruth (the book of Ruth, Matt. 1:5)
Abigail (I Sam. 25)

And on a punctuation note, I wonder if there is a limit to the number of times a person can insert parentheses on top of brackets on top of parentheses...])

Our L.M. Alcott story for this week will be "Roses and Forget-Me-Nots" (it's online!), the story of a poor orphan girl who ran errands for a florist, and who awakened the charity of a young privileged girl. They each were able to serve the other in both small and important ways.

(Update: Oops, she ran errands for a *milliner*, not a florist.)

One thing I like about the Alcott stories is that the girls are never paragons of virtue-- they are girls with very real good and bad points, who are trying to be good. Kind of like the girls I know. :o)

(On a side note, my copy of Alcott is an anthology-- ISBN 0517371464-- that my brother gave me for Christmas when I was in junior high. The binding is breaking apart, but it is still a favorite. It is so mine that it felt weird to realize there are people selling this book online. Surely mine was the only copy! Isn't that funny? But I read it over and over throughout junior high and high school. It contains Little Women, Little Men, and a collection of short stories.)

We will use some of the ideas in Mama Squirrel's original Advent post, including making a list of small, seemingly insignificant ways we can serve one another here at home.

I'm planning to call the volunteer coordinator for one of our local charitable organizations tomorrow morning. They run the angel trees at two of the malls in our area, and they are running low on volunteers for one of the locations, so I will see if we can volunteer for one or two time slots. But I also want to talk to the kids about the difference between acting like a servant and actually being one, as Mama Squirrel discussed in her post. There is a picture book that addresses this, The True Princess, and I think I might read that aloud one day.

(Updated to add: I want to say that I am not denigrating the idea of *acting* like a servant. How does one get to be a true servant, but by acting like one? The reason for bringing up the distinction is to help us press on toward the mark-- to not be satisfied with occasional random acts of kindness, but to reach toward consistent, sustained acts of kindness.)

('Nother update: The idea of contrasting acting like a servant with being one is taken from Richard Foster's book, _Celebration of Discipline_, which I have never read, nor even held in my hands. But the more I write about it, the more I think I need to add it to my unwieldy and out-of-control Amazon wish list. ;o)

The question of Zebedee's mother, and the indignation of the disciples, and Jesus' response, apply:

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:24-27

I love this Twyla Paris song:

Oh, let me be a servant
A keeper of the door
My heart is only longing
To see forevermore
The glory of your presence
The dwelling of the Lord
Oh, let me be a servant
A keeper of the door.

Taken from Psalm 84:

How amiable [are] thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, [even] thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

Blessed [are] they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

Blessed [is] the man whose strength [is] in thee; in whose heart [are] the ways [of them].

[Who] passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

They go from strength to strength, [every one of them] in Zion appeareth before God.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God [is] a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good [thing] will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts, blessed [is] the man that trusteth in thee.

The most interesting thing to me about that psalm is that even in giving, we receive so much more.

A hymn:

Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other's cross to bear;
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel his brother's care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve;
Increase our faith, confirm our hope,
And perfect us in love.

Up into Thee, the living Head,
Let us in all things grow
Till Thou hast made us free indeed,
And spotless here below.

Then, when the mighty work is wrought,
Receive Thy ready bride;
Give us in Heav'n a happy lot
With all the sanctified.

--Charles Wesley 1707-1788

I'd love to hear other ideas folks have on the theme of Service.

1 comment:

Mama Squirrel said...

Wonderful ideas! (I'll try to put something up on our blog over the next couple of days.) Just to clarify--that quote about being a servant vs. just acting like one came from Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline.