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This Week at St Mary’s

Servants – Famous & Obscure

 “The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory.” So began Archbishop Justin’s sermon at our late Queen’s funeral. 

The central theme, even before she died, has been that throughout her long life, Queen Elizabeth II honoured the commitment to service she made at her 21st birthday. Much has rightly been made of it, linking it to her Christian faith. Servanthood is THE mark of a follower of Jesus Christ. 

 Nehemiah, who has a book in the Bible named after him would probably be described as ‘obscure’. A Jew living in exile in Babylon, maybe in the 5th century BCE, he worked in the royal household as ‘cupbearer’ to King Artaxerxes, the wine waiter or butler. He describes the occasion when he was ‘sad’ in the king and queen’s presence, not a good thing to be, a gloomy waiter as we know, does not help the atmosphere at a meal. 

 He tells us his first loyalty was to the King of Kings, God Almighty. Asked to explain the reason for his sadness (what pain exiled people suffer) he then finds the way unfolding for him to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. All who serve God discover grace going before, grace going with you and grace following after. 

This story points us to Jesus Christ who shows above all the pattern for those who serve God. With striking echoes, Nehemiah also enters the city on a donkey. Moreso, Jesus does not just fill the odd empty glass with wine, he pours himself out that anyone may drink to abundance. His death has opened the way so that, by His Spirit, servants of God have immediate access to the God of all glory. 

Tom Gillum

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