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Of Good Boys and Slaves: An Advent Meditation

Who is the coolest Star Wars character? I’m sure you know the answer. I imagine one could argue it’s Lando (because he’s played by Billy Dee Williams) or Boba Fett (because he’s so mysterious and owns a rocket backpack). But the obvious answer is Han Solo. The bad Good Guy, or good Bad Guy, of the galaxy. The scoundrel, the pirate, the bad boy who ultimately wins the heart of the princess.

When I was a child my favorite Star Wars character was Luke Skywalker.

That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. Why Luke and not Han? Because Luke was a good boy. I wanted to be a good boy. I was the first born, the mature one, the moral one who didn’t give mom and dad any trouble. At least until I became a teenager and repented. Luke was the incarnation of good-boy-ness.

Now that I’ve owned my good boy status, I hope it will not be insulting to say that Danny Bryant was a good boy, too. He and I both grew up desiring to be good, moral, and right. We both grew up in moralistic religions. Different religions, but legalistic nonetheless. While the rules were quite different we both sought to obey them.

It is no wonder then that we both grew up to be pastors. The pastorate is filled with grown up good boys and girls. It is no wonder that Wednesday night Danny was ordained a deacon (he will be ordained priest in a few months). A deacon is someone called to serve others in the Church, especially the poor. What better job for a moral person than to be the servant of all?

It’s somewhat surprising then to read the Gospel passage the bishop chose for the ordination service. Here’s part of it.

Jesus said “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” (Luke 12:35-37, NASB)

Do you see what happened there? It is easy to miss if you read it quickly. Jesus is telling us to be ready for his coming. He is the master, we are the slaves. We don’t know when he is coming. What happens when the master comes? He knocks on the door and finds the servants alert. Then the master girds himself and serves the servants. The slaves recline at the table while the Lord waits on them.

The world and the Church don’t need good boys. They don’t need Luke Skywalkers. They don’t need Han Solos either. What the world and the Church need are sinners who will allow the Lord Jesus Christ to serve them.

Danny is not good enough to be a deacon. I am not good enough to be a priest. None of us are good enough to be Christians, the children of God, members of the new covenant community of the Church. Rather we are mere slaves who one day opened the door to find the Son of God standing there. It was he who came to us, who served us from the manger to the cross to the empty tomb. In his ascension, his sending of the Holy Spirit, and in his promise to return he serves us still.

The best Danny can hope to be is a sinner who, served by Christ and graced by the Spirit, might some days find the strength to serve others in Jesus’ name. That’s all any of us can hope for. To be moved by the vast love of Jesus and perhaps to love someone else for his sake.

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