Today whenever we go out to buy a new product like an
appliance or a new vehicle or something --- We want to
know what level of service we can expect if the thing
breaks down? In other words, we know that at some point
in the future, (hopefully the distant future!), whatever
we have purchased – whether it's something mechanical or
electronic – sooner or later we may need to obtain some
help to service the thing. It could be just maintaining
it or it could be replacing a major component, like
transmission! that requires the expertise of a qualified
Many years ago, when I was a fairly young teenager, my friends
and I got interested in putting together our own electronic
equipment. There was this company that sold radios and stereo
equipment as "kits" that you could buy from the store and assemble
it yourself at home. Well, I bought one of these kits, I think it
was a little amplifier, like something you might use to play an
eight-tract tape player or records or something – it made things
just a little louder than normal (much to my parents dismay!!).
Well the little kit I got was one of the most simple kits that
the company made . . . and wouldn't you know it, when I plugged my
"completed" kit into the wall socket and thru the switch, there
was a noise – a very loud noise!!! And then there was kind of a
"POP" – and then the lights went out, not just on the little
amplifier, BUT IN THE WHOLE HOUSE!!
As I sat there in the darkness, looking at my little amplifier
kit (now smoldering) . . . I thought to myself, "I NEED TO CALL
THE SERVICE DEPT."
Now it's a Funny thing, how, at this point, MOM and DAD took a
very active interest in "My Little Electronic Project!"!!
ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE TO CALL THE SERVICE
MAN TO COME AND REWIRE THE ENTIRE HOUSE!!
Well, things weren't quite that bad, but Dad took me down right
away to the electronic store and we went in to speak with the
SERVICE HELPER GUYS.
Now you have to appreciate that this was the early 1970's –
computers were not even in the calculator stage yet . . . or if
you got one it was like $400!! So in I come with my little
amplifier thing, there's other people there who look like they
would know what they were doing . . . but we all knew the same
feeling – "Somewhere, inside of our neat little box of wires and
stuff, I screwed up!!"
Nevertheless, we were learning new things -- "Gonna get a job
in this field some day . . . ."
It only took the service guy about 2 minutes to see where I had
gone wrong with my project. There's these little things called
"Diodes", and they can only be put into the wiring (circuit board)
in one special direction – Of course I figured out a way to put
them in backwards!!
ENNNGGGHH!!! Puffff . . . .
Fortunately, the guy at the store was merciful and kind to me,
in all of my 13 years of wisdom. He patiently showed me how to
replace the transistor that I'd burnt up (the most expensive
component in my little gizmo! of course!!) and helped me reverse
the direction of the diodes, and then the thing worked great!!!
Later in life – I even passed it on to my younger sister – with,
of course, the EIGHT TRACT TAPE PLAYER! Where have those days
Now, part of the moral of this story is that . . . 1. You need
to keep a Close EYE on your "Thirteen-year-old" whenever there's
electricity involved!!! 2. The other part of the story that
relates to Today's theme-character, JAMES. What we're trying to
learn here is that a Qualified SERVICE man, (or woman) is kind,
concerned, and is always seeking to provide CUSTOMER SERVICE for
James, you might say – SURPASSED the call of duty, especially
in today's Impersonal VOICE MESSAGING WORLD!.
So who was this guy James anyway? If you're a student of the
scriptures you may be confused, or if your really quite good, then
maybe you already know that St. James "The Elder" was the brother
of John, the Son of Zebedee, and the Son of Salome. Now if you
remember, Salome was with the two Mary's at the foot of the cross
when Jesus was crucified . . . presumably Salome is the sister of
Mary, and therefore the cousin of Jesus. You may remember James
more easily as being one of the first Disciples that Jesus calls.
They were mending their nets when Jesus called to them, "Follow
me, I will make you fishers of men."
JAMES WAS A MAN WHO HAD DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO SERVING THE LORD
BY SERVING THE CHURCH.
AS we heard in the Lesson from Acts -- James had taken on a
leadership role in the Church . . . Which, by Jesus' definition,
The Leader Serves the Flock, Leads by example, and is not ashamed
nor afraid to lead -- even when suffering is involved. (Boy, this
is kind of striking close to home)
NEVERTHELESS, we have heard what Jesus says to his enthusiastic
disciples in those early days when they were walking down the road
with Jesus. "Hey Lord, we want you to do whatever we ask!" To
which Jesus replies, "You do not even know what you are asking.
Are You able to drink the cup that I drink?? Or be baptized with
the baptism with which I will be baptized??"
In their naivety, James and John answer, "Yes Lord!" And even
though they still don't understand what they are getting into,
Jesus tells them that they "will DRINK from the cup, and they will
undergo the baptism with which he was baptized", but it will not
be one of refreshment – rather suffering, persecution and
ultimately martyrdom. This is SERVANTHOOD in its ultimate form.
Giving of ourselves for the sake of others, or so that another
will come into the faith or be held secure in the arms of the
James gives his life to Discipleship as a Witness to the faith
formed in him by the Lord Jesus. He does what he does because of
his unreserved faith in Jesus' resurrection, and he does what he
does also because he seeks to serve others or through his
position, he is going to be sure that others are served in the
church through the preaching of the word, the distribution of alms
(food) to the poor, especially the widows, and by maintaining good
order in the church.
The story has been told of an old Army Colonel, crusty old guy,
not easily pleased and gruff -- even when he was in a good mood!
One day his aid, a frail corporal, hesitantly approached the
Colonel to give him paperwork to sign. "Requisitions for supplies
for the company chaplain," the Corporal shyly told the Colonel. At
first the old Colonel scowled at the aid when he stood at the
Colonel's desk holding out the paper work needing signatures, but
when the Colonel saw who the papers were to benefit his scowl
turned into a look of deep concern, an expression that could be
described as compassionate. In an unusually reverent tone and
gesture, the Colonel kind of seemed to shrink in his position of
command behind the dark and important looking desk, his jacket,
complete with many bars of medals for his bravery and service to
country even seemed to mellow as he reached to receive the
paperwork with a kind of bowing action.
After carefully laying the crisp paperwork on his desk in front
of him and squinting through his sharp eyes to read the Chaplain's
name and company. The old Colonel then looked up at the aid who
waited nervously expecting some gruff orders to be barked out. But
instead, the old Colonel spoke with what almost sounded like a
soft voice – He said, "The only reason you and I are here is to
take care of chaplains who are taking care of soldiers and their
families." We can't always give the chaplains everything they
want, but we need to do the very best that we can for them.
Remember that whenever a chaplain asks for help." The Aid was so
impressed! Here was a man at the top who understood that his only
reason for being "in charge" was to help the person at the bottom.
This makes an interesting point, THROUGH OUR POSITION, maybe we
have been given some kind of authority in "this life". That is a
privilege that a few of us bear, it is also a responsibility. That
is, to use our power to make sure that "The least of those amongst
us" are served, with equality and dignity.
James and the other disciples used their position to do just
this . . . in a logical and business-like way they appointed the
SEVEN DEACONS to go into the community and see to it that the
widows would receive adequate food and in an equal manner. This
was also Service Work. Philip was one of those who, although
ordained a Deacon, went on to become the great Evangelist!! So
another level of servanthood might be to encourage and appoint
capable people to tasks where their gifts will work wonders for
all – preach the Gospel, serve the poor -- build the CHURCH. Does
this sound familiar??
The Apostles shared the Good News about Jesus and they taught
the Gentiles about the Prophetic Words of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Later, when a famine hit the land of Palestine, it was the Gentile
Believers who Shared of their food and resources with the Jewish
Believers in Jerusalem . . . and so there was a kind of "GOOD
FAITH SERVICE CONTRACT" being honored between JAMES' people and
the Greek Christians up around Antioch.
A final thought on this lesson for us. It truly took God's Holy
Spirit to speak to the disciples and to come upon the Gentile
believers before there was unity and agreement and Mutual Serving.
If you feel hesitant to go and serve people you might fear or if
you feel that God is calling you to do something for somebody that
just crosses you the wrong way, then maybe this is the very issue
you need to pray about. Ask God to give you a Servant's Heart,
even as Christ formed in each of his disciples.
Let us Pray: Dear Lord, enable us to become Kind,
Compassionate, and QUALIFIED SERVICE WORKERS -- to build up your
people in every place – One Life at a time.
more writings of Pastor Jon