You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
~ Bob Dylan, “You Gotta Serve Somebody”
from Slow Train Coming (1979)
Every year I discern a theme to guide my pastoral, teaching, and preaching work at St. Martin’s. For 2017-2018, I want to focus on “Serving One Another.” Three “D’s” will form the outline of this work.
The first “D” is Dylan, as in Bob Dylan, whose lyrics are cited above. Perhaps the greatest singer-songwriter America has yet to produce, Dylan is squarely on target with these lyrics from his deeply Gospel-inflected album, Slow Train Coming. Serving somebody either happens intentionally or unintentionally. No status or station exempts us from serving.
The author of Deuteronomy and the prophets of the Hebrew Bible warned God’s people repeatedly to choose the service of God above all other bonds of service. Serving false idols and false gods leads to bondage, enslavement, death, and despair because these false objects of service cannot offer the security and integrity that we seek.
So, who do you serve, and is that a healthy service for you and for your community? Some serve their addictions and compulsions. Others serve their fears. Many of us serve lucre and status. Test whatever you serve against the grace, freedom, and growth offered by service to God.
The second “D” is Diakonia which is the Greek word used in the New Testament for “service to neighbor.” From this word we get “Deacon,” the title for folks like Deacon Carol Duncan, who are set apart to bring out the servant quality of our congregation. The first Deacons, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, were called to serve the widows and elderly in the community, who were vulnerable to hunger and neglect. Within the social world, which surrounded the early church, such people were disposable and hardly seen as people at all. Not so for the early church. The love of Jesus overcame vicious social norms, and the outcasts were embraced and served.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to serve one another because each neighbor is of infinite value to God and because only together do we fully reflect God’s presence into the world. This is our vocation as restored in baptism - to reflect God’s presence into the world around us and to live in God’s presence in everything we say and do. God’s essence is relational and communal - “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” - the Trinity describes God’s internal and eternal life as perpetual love and service to others.
All the best stories in life are about serving others. We need to teach this vocation to our children and grandchildren as the true standard of faithful life. Let’s try to add an element of service to every gathering at St. Martin’s!
The final “D” is Discipleship. According to Rowan Williams, “Disciples watch; they remain alert, attentive, watching symbolic acts as well as listening for instructive words, watching the actions that give the clue to how reality is being reorganized around Jesus.” I want to encourage, support, and promote the choice for discipleship in our congregation. To do that, I will offer a seasonal reading list for self-study, an “Intro to Discipleship” class in Lent, and seasonal gatherings to nurture and feed folks who self-identify as Disciples and are engaged in the leadership and ministry of St. Martin’s.
Some characteristics of disciples include: cultivating an intentional dependence on Jesus, dedication of time, energy, and resources to reorganize reality around Jesus, regular prayer, deep listening for God’s guidance and invitations to grow, availability to the Holy Spirit and the activation of the gifts She brings, service to others, and making God known by listening to the story of others and sharing yours.
So let’s have some fun with the three D’s this coming year!
Read more about Discipleship.
More coming soon about Diakonia!
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist
Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.
Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.
Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.
Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.
Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.
We would love to have you join us.
This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.