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Serve? Me?

Jesus (c. AD 30, Israel) called them (his followers) to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 28-34)
Yes, I think that most people have now realized that even those whom we elect, in our democracies, to serve us, soon turn out to be those who “lord it over” us. And yes, some of those elected “exercise authority” over the elected.

This week we celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. She became Queen upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. She was crowned on 2 June 1953. But, six months before her Coronation, Elizabeth our un-crowned Queen asked this of the people of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth: “Pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”

Fifty years later in her 2002 Christmas Broadcast our Queen said: “God sent his only Son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.” And this week, rightly, we are very content indeed with the Queen’s servanthood of the nation and commonwealth through seventy years – a very long time indeed.

But did you notice that in her 1952 words she asked for prayer that she would have the wisdom and strength to carry out the vow which she planned to make that she would “faithfully serve Him…all the days of my life.”  She knew that her unknown future would be to be Queen. She prayed for wisdom and strength to “serve Him” in fulfilling that servant role.

Why on earth would she so strongly desire to serve the Lord Jesus Christ? In part I expect it was because that is what Jesus taught everybody that he himself was doing – serving His Father above. But possibly the major part of it would be that she saw that Jesus’ service of His Father included His willingness, voluntarily, to go to the cruel and shameful cross as a substitute for those who did deserve that punishment and shameful death. Yes, Jesus served His Father – and, in doing that, he also served multitudes of other people – just like our Queen. 

Did we – do we - deserve such service from our Queen (in my case throughout my life thus far)? Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples and the writer of one of the first-century eye-witness biographies of Jesus, recorded for us His words above. But he also recorded what happened immediately after Jesus spoke those words to his followers. Here it is: - 

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. 

Two blind beggars. Jesus had come to serve them. His followers (at that time) were not focussed on service. But Jesus was – to such an extent that he asked them what they wanted Him to do for them. 

A prayer: - Almighty God, our heavenly Father, I have sinned against you and against my neighbour in thought and word and deed, in the evil I have done and in the good I have not done, through negligence, through weakness, through my own deliberate fault and through my desire always first to serve myself. I am truly sorry, and repent of all my sins and of all my love and service of self. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for me, forgive me all that is past; and grant that I may love, please and serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.

In her Christmas Day broadcast in 2011 our gracious Queen Elizabeth said this: “In that last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer: O Holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born is us today. It is my prayer that, on this Christmas Eve, we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ Our Lord.”
Sinner Syvret

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