Saturday, October 16, 2010

Inspired by Fishbait

Friday, we went to the Cobb County Library book sale - great fun for me and the church's Media Center Director, and a benefit to the church. As I examined the thousands of books there, I realized how fleeting popularity really is. Of course there were current titles. There always are, since these are books that have been donated specifically for this sale. But there were also biographies of those whose contributions are now dimming memories. Diana, Princess of Wales; the Kennedys, Tim Russert, Henry Kissinger; and the biography of Fishbait Miller. Who? Many of you may not remember Fishbait, but I do. I've had that book on my shelf for many years. William "Fishbait" Miller served for 42 years on Capital Hill and was the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives for 28 of those years. His departure signaled the beginning of a departure of dignity and decorum from that great body. Many have served since, but no one has been able to intone that memorable, "Mistah Speakah! The President of the United States!!" as he introduced the President to a joint session of Congress.

Why do I mention Fishbait at all? He was one of the more insignificant players on the world stage, but I remember what he did and how well he did it. Many of the persons represented by the books on those tables yesterday are, as Lincoln put it, of little note nor long remembered. Yet as I looked at the combined wisdom represented in those books and the collective impact of the lives represented, there is no question that the world is a different place because they lived.

The same is true of the us. Our individual achievements do not often seem to be of much consequence, but we are not asked to serve in isolation. Our faith is an indiviual commitment which by necessity is lived out in the collective presence of the church and the society in which we find ourselves. Fishbait introduced the President at his last State of the Union Address with the same enthusiasm that he had at the first. The most important part of his job publically was to introduce the leader of the free world to that Constitutionally mandated meeting of government.

We are called to introduce others to a great leader as well. We are not so effective when we attempt to do so without the help of others. We need encouragement to stand up and belt out the news for all the world to hear. Jesus has been forgotten by many, and some have never known him at all. We have the opportunity as a collective body of believers to introduce again the most important one who ever lived. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus pronounced that the best work we will ever do. Our work does not have to gain recognition and popularity. In fact, it is better when it does not. We simply are asked to be faithful as children of God and faithful as witnesses to the power of his presence. Out of the thousands of people present in your life every day, maybe someone will pick up on something you say or do and get curious.

1 comment:

  1. As with the "wiki" phenomenon, in which small contributions by many is the only way to achieve an audacious goal, apparently modest initiatives do add up to great things, and they are within most of our reach. Wikipedia and the 100-year-old (albeit low-tech) Oxford English Dictionary are examples. Everyday Christian kindness rarely makes the CNN news crawl, but it is absolutely noticed by those affected, and tends to trigger the beneficiaries to "pay forward" the kindness to others. The resulting upward spiral of goodwill may be rare, but it lifts all of humanity, and it is the kind of Kingdom here-and-now that I like to experience. Let's get going!