Tag Archives: service

ADDRESS – THURSDAY SERVICE, DUMFRIES NORTH-WEST 2 OCTOBER 2014

 1456519_768362603224004_1756154407140732945_n

Matthew 20:20-28   New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him

 . 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

  22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”

  23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

 24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.

  25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.

  26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,

  27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

SERVICE

Service these days – despite the efforts of Downton Abbey to semi-glamorise it – has certain negative connotations.

It implies subservience, a sense of surrendering personal rights, an abrogation of identity.

If you go to the “People’s Story” museum in the High Street in Edinburgh, you’ll see a display of how it really used to be – a tableau of a young lassie, at the crack of dawn, lighting a fire, working as a very minor servant at Carberry House – in bleak conditions.

Or perhaps some of you had a grandmother or great grandmother who, as a young woman, was in service – and although many were treated well, many others had a miserable existence.

That was the past ….. but……

When I was working in Trinidad, I was distressed by the conditions in which our church “servants” lived – our janitor and his wife. Their home was really just a basic shack with a corrugated iron roof – situated next to the church building.

I brought the situation of the Cordiners (that was their name) before the Kirk Session, only to be told that they were better housed than most in their position.

And I was further surprised when the Cordiners themselves said that they were perfectly happy, indeed “blessed”, to be living in this lean-to shed, and were honoured to be called to serve.

These are the very words that Henry and Cordelia Cordiner said to me, “We are honoured to serve”

Christ shows us that service is the new greatness.

Our Scripture passage for this afternoon  shows the disciples having an argument about greatness

Their minds were entangled in contemporary ideas of greatness.  When Jesus was born, the Caesar at Rome had the title “Augustus” – or “Majestic”.  The ruler at Jerusalem was Herod THE GREAT.  A common title in Syria and Egypt was “Benefactor”

The Pharisees of Jerusalem and the Galilean towns were clothed in prestige, as were the Temple Saducees

And the disciples, and especially James and John, wanted some of this status.  These two wanted to sit on Christ’s right and left side in his glory – that’s the ambition of power!

These men needed a new idea of greatness and Jesus gave it to them.

And he did so by washing the feet of his disciples.  A menial task.  And Peter quibbled at this; but Christ replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part of me”

And he says to US – May the leader be the one who serves.

Greatness is to be found in service!

Since he said that, this new concept of greatness has inspired such servants as Peter and Andrew, Francis of Assisi, Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, pope Francis ….and so many unheralded others.

And to us today

A personal remininiscence:  in my first charge in 1974,  I visited this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.

On one particular visit, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.

The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.

She would have none of this!  Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!”  Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc

Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.

In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have.

And that is to bring light to the World and news of salvation to all.

Was there ever a day when such need for such service was so great and pressing?

(a post note:  after almost half an hour and virtually a whole box of matches and umpteen firelighters, I still couldn’t get the elderly lady’s fire to light – maybe she was right when she  asked me not to bother!)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Servant – a Sermon for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

(preached on 14 January 1996 at St.Michael’s, Inveresk – edited)

John 1 verses 29-42

Service these days – despite the efforts of Downton Abbey to semi-glamorise it – has certain negative connotations.

It implies subservience, a sense of surrendering personal rights, an abrogation of identity.

If you go to the “People’s Story” museum in the High Street in Edinburgh, you’ll see a display of how it really used to be – a tableau of a young lassie, at the crack of dawn, lighting a fire, working as a very minor servant at Carberry House – in bleak conditions.

Or perhaps some of you had a grandmother or great grandmother who, as a young woman, was in service – and although many were treated well, many others had a miserable existence.

That was the past ….. but……

When I was working in Trinidad, I was distressed by the conditions in which our church “servants” lived – our janitor and his wife. Their home was really just a basic shack with a corrugated iron roof – situated next to the church building.

I brought the situation of the Cordiners (that was their name) before the Kirk Session, only to be told that they were better housed than most in their position.

And I was further surprised when the Cordiners themselves said that they were perfectly happy, indeed “blessed”, to be living in this lean-to shed, and were honoured to be called to serve.

These are the very words that Henry and Cordelia Cordiner said to me, “We are honoured to serve”

I was thinking of these words, when I looked at today’s Gospel Reading –

– here’s John the Baptist, who had already said that, in modern terms – he was only the warm-up man for the Messiah; he said this about Jesus, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I am; whose sandals I am not worthy to carry”

And here he is again today, once more in a secondary role – handing over, as it were, to one who is greater than he is – and feeling honoured to do so.

What is our conception of greatness? Is it someone who is rich and powerful and who can bid others do his will?

H.G. Wells was once asked to select the three greatest men in history. The first thing Wells did was to decide upon a test to determine what makes someone “great”. He came up with this: what did a person do to start people thinking in new directions in a way that eventually changed the course of history? Using this criterion, he narrowed the field to three, Aristotle, The Buddha and (in first place) Jesus of Nazareth.

And should you think that Wells was biased – he was an agnostic

Jesus was the greatest who ever lived.  John the Baptizer certainly thought so, and was honoured to bow, as it were, before Christ’s greatness.

Then there was Andrew, one of the first called by Christ – who was honoured to serve and follow.

And look what he does: he doesn’t feel that his place is to feel superior – rather, he fetches his brother, Simon Peter, to meet the Christ.

I have the feeling that Andrew felt that this was an honour – as we find later in the Jesus story – an honour to be working away in the background.

And, if you look at Peter’s story several pages onward, you’ll see that we have a chain reaction of service.  And service here is regarded as the highest kind of calling and sacred duty

Christ shows us that service is the new greatness.

Let’s move on now from the very beginning of Christ’s ministry and towards its close.

Here we discover the disciples having an argument about greatness

Their minds were entangled in contemporary ideas of greatness.  When Jesus was born, the Caesar at Rome had the title “Augustus” – or “Majestic”.  The ruler at Jerusalem was Herod THE GREAT.  A common title in Syria and Egypt was “Benefactor”

The Pharisees of Jerusalem and the Galilean towns were clothed in prestige, as were the Temple Saducees

And the disciples, and especially James and John, wanted some of this status.  These two wanted to sit on Christ’s right and left side in his glory – that’s the ambition of power!

These men needed a new idea of greatness and Jesus gave it to them.

And he did so by washing the feet of his disciples.  A menial task.  And Peter quibbled at this; but Christ replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part of me”

And he says to US – May the leader be the one who serves.

Greatness is to be found in service!

Since he said that, this new concept of greatness has inspired such servants as Peter and Andrew, Francis of Assisi, Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, pope Francis ….and so many unheralded others.

And to us today

A personal remininiscence:  in my first charge in 1974,  I visited this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.

On one particular visit, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.

The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.

She would have none of this!  Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!”  Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc

Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.

In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have.

And that is to bring light to the World and news of salvation to all.

Was there ever a day when such need for such service was so great and pressing?

(a post note:  after almost half an hour and virtually a whole box of matches and umpteen firelighters, I still couldn’t get the elderly lady’s fire to light – maybe she was right when she  asked me not to bother!)

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Harold Jellicoe Percival

HUNDREDS of mourners attended the funeral of a Bomber Command veteran they had never met, following a newspaper and internet appeal to honour him.

Harold Jellicoe Percival died aged 99 at a nursing home on the Lancashire coast with “few friends and little family”, and staff feared no-one would be there to pay their respects.

He was part of the ground team which supported the legendary Dambusters squadron, whose daring raids in May 1943 smashed three dams serving the industrial heartland of the Ruhr valley.

But after a public appeal for the Second World War veteran, an estimated 300 people attended the service at Lytham St Annes, with traffic blocking roads in the area and space running out in the crematorium. He was laid to rest yesterday at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Standing in silence, as millions around the world marked Armistice Day, members of the public, old soldiers and serving servicemen and women awaited the arrival of Mr Percival’s funeral cortege at the crematorium.

“It’s just staggering,” his nephew, Andre Collyer-Worsell, said after attending the service.

“It just shows how great the British public are. He was not a hero, he was just someone who did his duty in World War Two, just as his brother and sister did and his father before him in World War One.

“We were expecting a few people, a few local veterans, but suddenly it snowballed.

“It’s the sort of send-off you would want to give any loved one. It’s very emotional.” Born in Penge, south London, in 1914, Mr Percival had two sisters and a brother, and was  described as a very private person, who lived a “nomadic lifestyle” after leaving the RAF. He never married or had children.

He worked as a painter and decorator and emigrated to Australia before returning to the UK, travelling around England with his only possessions in a backpack. He settled in Lancashire and was cared for in the Alistre Lodge Nursing and Care Home in Lytham St Annes until his death on 25 October.

Fittingly, his coffin, with the distinctive blue RAF flag on top, was borne into the crematorium to the sound of the theme from The Dambusters, the popular 1955 film. As the two-minute silence was held, hundreds stood still in the rain at Lytham Park Crematorium, before the Last Post was played and Mr Percival’s coffin was removed from the hearse to a round of applause.

In reference to a small appeal for mourners in the Lytham St Annes Express, which snowballed into an internet campaign, the Reverend Alan Clark told mourners: “We marvel at the power of the printed word. You have come in numbers surpassing anything that was expected. Not because you knew him, but because each of us has a common humanity.”

Mr Percival was known as an independent man who knew his own mind and enjoyed reading his newspaper each morning, mourners were told. The Lord’s Prayer was read and the hymn Jerusalem sung before the Last Post was played a final time.

Nursing home staff who cared for Mr Percival wiped away tears as the service ended. Lorraine Holt, matron at the home, said: “We have lots of veterans at the home and every one of them should be remembered like this.”

 

http://youtu.be/r7Si2H479Es

2 Comments

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

“The Service: Causes of Joy and Sorrow” from CartoonChurch.com

Leave a comment

September 22, 2013 · 08:00

An Oldie – They Died in the Service

One Sunday morning, the minister noticed little Johnny was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the minister walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, “Good morning son.”

“Good morning Reverend” replied the young man, focused on the plaque.

“Sir, what is this?” Johnny asked.

“Well son, these are all the people who have died in the service,” replied the minister. Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Little Johnny’s voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, “Which one sir, the morning or the evening service?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic