Saturday, June 11, 2011

Acts 21 - the servant and his reward

 Last night, Joe won two awards at the Senior Awards Ceremony at Rice High School. He won the Drama Award for his hilarious performance at the One-Act Festival this spring and even more so for his willingness to help out in any way necessary. He's a trooper (trouper?) in the spirit of theater: do whatever needs doing because the show must go on. He also won the $500 Ellen Pomerleau Scholarship, for academic achievement and, you guessed it, service. Anyone who knows Joe know that he is always willing to help out, no matter if anyone is looking or how unrewarding the task.

In this way he reminds me of Philip, who returns to the Book of Acts for a "cameo" appearance. You may remember him as one of the Seven picked in the heady, chaotic days of the early Jerusalem church (see Acts 6). His job - oh, what status, what fun, what power! - was to divvy up the food so that the Jewish widows didn't get more than the Gentile widows and to try to make everyone happy about it! Then the Spirit promotes him to evangelize the (ewwww......) Samaritans! And after faithfully fulfilling that task (and probably getting some funny looks from the "faithful" back in Jerusalem), Philip is called by the Spirit to run panting alongside a chariot, not unlike a slave, explaining the gospel to a eunuch who is a highly ranked servant of the queen of Ethiopia. This man was the first century equivalent of a transgender, black, politician. Those enslaved to the spirit of racism, pride and religion back then (and today) would refuse to accept the position of lower status with "that kind of person". Philip was less concerned about the other fellow's identity than his own: a humble servant of Christ loving others, spreading the gospel, and obeying God. His work was blessed by the Spirit of the First and the Last.

So, what is Philip doing, about 15 years later? He is living in Caesarea and has four daughters, all unmarried, all prophets. Raising four outspoken daughters to be godly servants: now THAT'S servanthood! Four times as much of it as I have, anyway.

Lord Jesus my Servant, who forsook your lofty place and endured humiliation, separation, abuse, and torture to serve unto death both your Father and Bridegroom, I thank and bless you, and I thank and bless all of your servants, those on earth and those in the Great Cloud of Witnesses (one in particular), who have by deed and example helped bring Joe and all other Christian young people to this momentous point. Like Paul in this chapter, Joe is moving on to a new stage in his life, with its own set of new challenges and blessings. I say to this man of God, as Paul's friends said to him in vs. 14, "The Lord's will be done." For Paul, Philip, Joe and Guy, those five words contain blessings and rewards unknown, abundant, sufficient.

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