“He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.'” – Luke 22:25-27
I am standing at a table which holds the oldest telescope in America. It’s from the time of Galileo. Up close, it doesn’t look like much.
But the curator explains its significance. For a long time people thought of the heavenly bodies as perfectly round spheres. Divine marbles in the sky. Nothing to do with our bumpy, dirty earth.
Galileo’s telescope helped prove them wrong. The moon, the sun, the other planets: they are just as bumpy as ours. And made of familiar stuff. Galileo brought the heavenly bodies down to earth.
That’s the trick with things that look perfect. They’re usually far away. And those who want to appear special or powerful are wise to keep their distance. Up close, they don’t look like much.
Then there’s real greatness. When you’re in its presence you don’t need to be told. It doesn’t have to remind you how great it is. It could come wait on you at the table, get down to eye level, and take your order.
It could come from heaven to earth. Made of familiar stuff. But you could see. This is something special.
From dirt I came, and to dirt I shall return. But fill me with your power and I will be great enough to serve. Amen.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.