Who is greater—he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? He that sitteth at meat, surely. For it is him we serve, and it is for the fulfillment of his needs we are occupied. However, I am in your midst not as he that sitteth at meat, but as he that serveth. For I am not the author of these garbled elaborations—they are my Lord's.
Myself, I am but a humble servant, and have little need for the compulsory attentions of a captive audience. But the Lord our God, Light of the World, has asked that I pass his mind-numbing and unfathomable message on to the members of His flock, and I have answered Him yes. It is my God's infinite tedium, not mine, that I strive to share with you.
I cannot be faulted for the self-love you hear in my voice. That self-love is God's alone, for He taketh great pleasure in an audience, and in the airing of His thoughts before it. My seeming indifference to your flagging interest is, in truth, my Father's. For my Father rarely considers His listeners. And the tired rhetorical devices I use and tame shaggy-dog stories I tell are my Lord's, as well.
It is He who has chosen me to spin His pointless yarns. It is He who said, "Michael, read at length from the Holy Bible's more prosaic stretches, and follow it with a lecture that shall continue until you are tired and then begin again, one that you shall deliver in a voice with no tonal modulation." And I have answered his call. Verily, I am doing the Lord's droning.
Brothers and sisters, I do not speak for indefinite lengths—often for the better part of a morning—of mine own will, but of the Great Babbler's. It is He who bids me speak of matters arcane and indistinct with language obtuse and dry. The incessant question-begging is my God's. The tiresome generalities and cryptic platitudes whose original meanings have been stripped of context or lost to mistranslation, my Master's. These, and all my ponderous orations, were delivered unto me by Him, our Lecturer, our Shepherd.
He speaks through me often, brothers and sisters. He speaks through me during the day, and He speaks through me at night. He speaks through me when I am at the pulpit, and He speaks through me when I attend a secular event, such as a football game. The Lord even occasionally speaks through me when I am alone with my wife.
Sometimes, when the Lord bids me speak about Scripture, I do not wish to obey. I say, "Not right now, God! I'm watching Kate's playoff game." I say, "Father, I love and worship you, but I am in the middle of eating eggs!"
For I cannot take any pride in this, the Divine Embarrassment's shameless tongue-wagging. It is through Him alone that I stand before you Sundays in my frayed chasuble, my thinning hair improbably combed, my eyes glazed and beneficent. It is He who decides, after an interminable sermon, to lead the congregation in the off-key singing of a hymn. And it is He that fails to note your eyes' tendency to wander or fix dumbly on a funeral-home ad on the back of your hymnal, because He knows that He is above all things. Sometimes after the services, I wish I could take Him aside in the sacristy to talk to Him about His behavior, but ironically, it is precisely these times in which He is nowhere to be found.
In the final days, the Lord our God shall reveal Himself to thee, and lightning bolts shall emit from His eyes, and He shall hold in one hand the earth, and in the other a lamb. He will darken the skies, and fold the heavens upon the seas, and the animals will go down on bended knee, and He shall retell a provincial anecdote. This, the Lord's small anecdote, shall be taken from a private, humorous aspect of His own life, and using its meager light, the Lord shall attempt to elucidate a passage from the Bible. Yea. Our Father will talk at length, with much mildness and complacent goodwill, employing many familiar chestnuts. He shall speak night and day, eternally, until the dead rise from their sepulchers and crumple to the ground to hug their own bodies, stupefied by the emptiness of the Lord's many, many words.
Yes, it is my Holy Father who has caused the flock at Heavenly Words Episcopal Church to decrease by half. It is my Holy Father who is driving His children from the fold. It is my Holy Father who has never known the freshness and light of devotion, and who, through gall or great hubris, doles out weekly servings of mutual humiliation, punishing the few who would glorify His name. I am but His megaphone: the mouthpiece through which He delivers His meandering homilies. And I will serve my Father, the Everlasting Talker, always, unto the end of my life and beyond, forever His willing horn, that He may blow eternal His tempests of hot air. Now let us sing.