Single-Heartedness: First Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2010
by Rev. Kathleen K. Masters
"Serve God with absolute single-heartedness." (Luke 4:8b)
Absolute single-hearted service ... how does one do that? What would that look like? Some saintly person unengaged with this world's temptations and relationships that snarl much of God's creation into an unrecognizable mess? What does single-hearted service mean to me? How do I not become distracted from my intentions?
The recent deaths of Clinton Rabb and Sam Dixon, and the death of my husband, Mark Masters over three and a half years ago, have informed me about such a concept. This trio of men--my husband who lost his life in almost an instant in the mountains of Nepal doing what he loved the most, and Sam and Clint who spent hours together waiting for rescue singing hymns--pointed to each of us how we might single-heartedly served God without giving up what we hold so dear: our families, our partners, and our communities.
I first heard of Clint years ago while serving as a Global Ministries missionary in Zambia, where his stepson, a Mission Intern, informed me about the benefits of blended families as he was explaining how peanut butter could be substituted for vanilla in brownie recipes. I imagined that anyone Andrew could admire and respect in this exuberant way was a role model not just for his family but for all of us workers in Christ's name.
And I prayed that Andrew would follow that avenue rather than the culinary arts! The last time I saw Andrew, he proudly told me how honored he was that his father had asked for his assistance in one of his mission volunteer programs. I felt the world was so blessed to have these two men working together.
I learned of Sam from my husband, Mark, who spoke enthusiastically of a man who couldn't erase the joy from his face even as they negotiated difficult situations into resolutions that benefited all and had integrity. It was not a small compliment, but then again Sam Dixon had a great heart.
The last time I saw Sam was in a hallway, on the day I returned to Global Ministries after three years, he gave me a broad smile with a twinkle in his eye, shook my hand, and said, "I'm glad to see you are back!" I dismissed the comment, and he replied, "No, Kathleen, I am glad you are here." What a joy, and a moment to cherish.
And I learned much from Mark every day I was married to him, and from the time we met in Somalia in 1981. We were blessed by Global Ministries to serve in mission together for all most 20 years before his sudden death in Nepal on Mothers Day 2006. He was called to do the right thing when many felt called to be right. This small difference was not insignificant but offered space in which more persons with different ideas and ways could collaborate for the work God gave us.
Each of us has a calling, but to joyfully live that call in our personal lives, families, communities, and work means single-hearted service. Each of these three men was a remarkable father, friend, and colleague. My life would be sorely lacking were it not that single-hearted service demands we believe in the Resurrection, which we are all entitled to as children of the Risen Christ. I pray someday I will be greeted by no finer trio of saints than Sam, Clint, and Mark.
Rev. Kathleen K. Masters is the executive for Church and Community Workers and a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church.
Date posted: Feb 10, 2010