Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A servant of the Lord

When I was in my first year of college, I met
the person who would have the most profound
influence in my life. A friend invited me to
go with him to hear the new minister who
had just arrived at the church some of
the faculty from the college attended.

Robert had come to this church because
he had been "run off' by his previous congregation
in Alabama. Why? Because he believed the
promise that the Lord's Table was open to
all who came from north and south, and
from east and west, and so had borne
witness to this truth by serving the bread
and the cup to a black couple, whom the
elders of the church had ignored while
serving everyone else in the church.

In his new call, he continued to live out
this witness. Before it was the word de jour,
he taught and lived inclusion, always welcoming
whoever came to the door, whether it was at
church or at home. He preached justice
to a time and a society which was desperately
holding on to all its unjust ways of treating
people who were different. Robert gently
spoke the hard words which needed to be
truthfully told, he endured the accusations
of the critics who charged him with
'meddling,' he provided sensitive and
compassionate care to those who spoke
vitriocally about him.

For the longest time, I could not figure out
why, or how, he did it.

Then, one day, visiting him at the church, I
needed to use the phone in his office. He
waved me behind his desk and left the room
to give me privacy. While the phone rang,
and I waited for the other party to pick up
at their end, I glanced down at his desk.
There, in a spot where he would see it
every day, in the midst of whatever he
was doing, was a yellowed piece of paper
taped to the desk which simply reminded him:

'You are a servant.'

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman

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