Week of May 14, 2014

Todd JonesMy Dear Friends,

Many years ago, while a graduate student in Great Britain, I travelled with my parents to Coventry, that industrial city in England that was bombed so heavily
by the Germans during World War II. On the night of November 14, 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed the heart of the city, and with it, St. Michael’s Cathedral. The
handsome cathedral tower was left standing, but the ancient roof of the church was burned, and the interior of the lovely nave was completely ruined. Charred
beams were saved from the rubble, and they were placed together on the ancient altar in the shape of a cross, where they stand to this day, open to the weather. Behind the old altar have been carved into the stone Jesus’ words, “Father, Forgive.” Ever since the destruction of the old church, the people of St. Michael’s determined that their response would not be motivated by anger or bitterness, but by reconciling, redeeming love. They decided to build their new cathedral right out of the ruins of the old church, and the Queen laid the cornerstone on Coventry Cathedral in 1956. It is a modern cathedral in glass, steel and stone that rises up out of the rubble and ashes of the ancient church, a living symbol of the Christian conviction that God works through crucifixion and resurrection to bring hope and reconciliation into this broken world.

One of the chapels that they built was constructed to honor the guilds of artisans and workers that have played such an important role in the life of Coventry. It is called Chapel to the Guilds, and it is circular in shape, with a stone altar in the center of the circle. Carved in stone around the communion table are Jesus’ words found in Luke’s Gospel, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). When Albert Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his medical missionary work in Africa, he said in accepting his award, “The only ones among you who will ever find happiness are those who learn to serve.” What is central to Jesus’ way among us can hardly be peripheral to our lives. To follow Jesus Christ faithfully involves taking the form of a servant. Leadership in Jesus’ name is always servant leadership.

Robert K. Greenleaf was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1904 and worked for 38 years for AT&T teaching management training courses. He retired in 1968 and found a whole new calling in the second half of his life through publishing an award-winning essay in 1970 that became his 1976 book, Servant Leadership. During his adult years, as Greenleaf discovered the power of servant leadership, he became a practicing Quaker, but all his life he remained convinced that the principle of changing the world through service could cut across every religion and those with none at all. Jesus was his model, of course, but Greenleaf believed that the world could be transformed by leaders who understood the power of becoming servants. Jesus said in Mark’s Gospel, “But whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). The world was changed forever by the Servant King, and Jesus always calls us who follow to become servants ourselves.

As we seek to become a community of faith marked by Gratitude, Hospitality and Generosity, the notion of being servant leaders will be essential to our life. Lorne Sanny was a businessman who founded The Navigators, a Christian organization. He once was asked how you know when you have a servant attitude. “By how you act when you are being treated like one,” he said. We all are called by Jesus to serve. Alice Waters has written a book about food called, In the Green Kitchen. She says “Our full humanity is contingent upon our hospitality. We can be complete only when we are giving something away; when we sit at table and pass the peas to the person next to us, we see that person in a whole new way.” We see people in their true and best light only when we are serving them. Teresa of Avila understood this servant principle of Jesus profoundly. I love her advice! “Always think of yourself as everyone’s servant; look for Christ our Lord in everyone, and you will have respect and reverence for all.”

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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