Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat,
Conceived by Magnús Tómasson,
Bronze and volcanic rock,
Executed in 1994, in Reykjavik, Iceland
© 2019 Magnús Tómasson

Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat,
Conceived by Magnús Tómasson,
Bronze and volcanic rock,
Executed in 1994, in Reykjavik, Iceland
© 2019 Magnús Tómasson

Gospel of 2 October 2022

We are merely servants

Luke 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.

‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’

Reflection on the public sculpture

Several countries have monuments to the 'Unknown Soldier'. Our sculpture today (in Reykjavik) is called Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat… whether it was intended as a serious tribute, or a humorous, satirical piece, the artist never clarified this, so it is up to you to decide what you make of it.

The sculpture depicts a walking man holding a briefcase, walking firmly to work. A large block of Icelandic volcanic basalt sits where you would expect to see a torso and head. As I mentioned, monuments to unknown soldiers are common, but as Iceland doesn’t have its own army, maybe this sculpture is a tribute to the civilians who serve their country…

The ‘serving’ which Jesus is referring to is altogether different, however. He wants us to serve in a far more personal way than any bureaucratic work. Jesus is inviting us to fully appreciate the human freedom we have been given, and through that to have the humility to serve other people. So the desire to serve comes from a love for God; and the quality of our serving comes from a desire to please God.

Why would we serve God? Because Jesus served us first! The question we may have about today’s reading is: why does God command us to serve him if he doesn't need anything? Because in serving him we reciprocate the love he holds for us. It is a beautiful, personal way to show how close we want to be to him. In serving we celebrate God’s greatness, kindness, and love. Serving builds our faith and helps us to love and trust him even more.

...and serving comes with great joy. God wouldn’t want us to serve him against our will, or without joy, or even grumbling. No, God loves a cheerful server!

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Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
2 months ago

I’ve just got back from the Holy Land and I would say that every Christian should go there! It will increase your faith in a major way. To see the field where the shepherds heard the message from the angel, to see the road from Jerusalem to Damascus where the parable of the Good Samaritan is set.For examples. It brings the gospels to life BIG time.
The people there also need our tourism as they have been left very badly off by the pandemic.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
2 months ago

You obviously received grace and a great deal from this trip Chazbo. Wonderful.

Jo Siedlecka
Member
Jo Siedlecka(@jo-siedlecka)
2 months ago

I love this piece. I says a lot!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
2 months ago
Reply to  Jo Siedlecka

Agree… that’s how I feel. Serving Him in our neighbour shouldn’t be for glory – or even thanks!

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