223) Play Your Part Well (part two)

     (…continued)  Moses is thus not only saved from certain death, but he is allowed to live in the palace.  His own mother is hired to care for him and will be paid out of the king’s treasury to raise her own son; the same king who had ordered that all such babies should be killed.  And this baby grew up to be God’s chosen leader to deal the nation of Egypt a most crushing defeat, one that would free all the Hebrews from slavery.  It is a wonderful story, filled with miracles, surprises, courage, hope for the future, and, a happy ending– and it was made possible by the courage of one little girl, Miriam, who was faithful to her little brother and played her part well.

     This seems to be God’s favorite kind of story.  The small and insignificant person obeys God and does something of everlasting significance.  The boy David says, “I’ll take on the giant Goliath.”  The young Isaiah says, “Here I am, send me.”  The illiterate fishermen Peter and his brother Andrew hear Jesus say, “Follow me,” and they drop their nets and go.  A widow puts two pennies in the offering, and is praised by Jesus.  A little boy lets Jesus have his picnic basket, and Jesus feeds five thousand people out of it.  An angel appears to the young unmarried teenager Mary to say she is pregnant with the Savior of the whole world, and Mary says, “Let it be to me as you have said.”  And in Matthew 10:42 Jesus praises every act of kindness and service no matter how small with these words, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones of mine because he is my disciple, truly I tell you, he will not lose his reward.”

     That was Miriam.  She was not the star of the show.  She was not the main character in the story, but there would have been no story if it wasn’t for her.  She would go on to stay by Moses’ side, supporting him in all his troubles and helping him in his many duties; until she died many years later in the wilderness, on the way to the promised land.  She played her part well, served her brother, her God, and her nation.  She was a vital part of God’s plan to free the Hebrews and establish the people of Israel in their new land.

     Miriam and John Parker were similar in that they both were called on to do small acts of service to people in positions of greater authority.  But the way Miriam fulfilled her duty in service to her leader was quite the opposite of how John Parker failed in his duty and service; and, with the opposite result.  Miriam’s service made possible the long career of her brother Moses.  John Parker’s failure ended the career of America’s greatest President at a time when his continued leadership was desperately needed.

     We are all called on by God to serve others– some within their own family, some in a classroom, and some, in leadership positions over an entire county, state, or nation.  But even presidents depend on the service of others.  Jesus taught us that whatever we do for someone else is important and is a way to serve God.  We might see the importance of only the more visible positions.  God sees the value in all.

     David Horowitz was a student radical in the 1960’s.  In his book Radical Son he describes how arrogant and self-righteous he and his friends in the movement were.  They saw themselves as great and wonderful people– after all, weren’t they trying to bring peace and justice to all the earth, overthrowing the powers of oppression, and creating a new and better world?  But Horowitz began to realize that his friends weren’t such wonderful people after all.  They were mean, selfish, arrogant, and petty just like his parents and the rest of the older generation, and so was he.  Today, Horowitz has many regrets about the mistakes he made in those years.

     Horowitz now sees others who are like he was, full of themselves and self-righteous with all their big ideas, and he is not impressed.  He says, “Everybody wants to save the earth, but no one wants to help mom with the dishes.”  Big ideas and the desire to change the world is great, and God calls many people to work for such change.  But God also calls people to smaller acts of service; and the world is made a better place even when a little boy helps his mom with the dishes, or a little girl is nice to her little brother, or some friends get together to help another friend, or an offering is taken for world hunger, or you stop by and see that old friend in the nursing home.  One time Jesus told the story of help given to a stranger by a Good Samaritan, and then he said to the crowd, “Go and do likewise.”

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Matthew 10:42  —  (Jesus said), “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

Luke 10:36-37  —  (Jesus said), “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Matthew 25:37-40 — (Jesus said), “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

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O Almighty and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things thou wouldst have done, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  —Book of Common Prayer