Epiphany 5 – Year B
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Given that you gotta serve somebody (click on the first "listen" triangle) there is a key question of what are you going to get out of such service. Will it simply be survival in the face of coercive baptism or other threat of death? How about some deemed sufficient amount of the coin of the realm? A promise of insurance, whether health or eternity? A degree of importance from celebrity or being a Friend Of ____?
Paul's reward of "pleasure" [The Message] from proclaiming good stuff is pretty humbling in light of all the conflicting desires we have. He claims that he doesn't just want to talk about a better way, but wants to be in on energizing it. His service is to model his proclamation in his living.
It is this issue of meaning of life or explicit vocation that extends Jesus' wilderness prayer regarding his perceived task. Instead of serving the sick in one location he expands his service to teaching and healing in a wider arena. For some, their prayer would move them in exactly the other direction – a particular ministry in a localized setting. It is not that one is right or wrong, as an ideal, but that one's prayer call be clear and followed – simply for the pleasure of it.
I wish John Wesley, when he stole a Covenant Service that over time shows up as the following, would have added a word about it being our pleasure to do another's pleasure (G*D or Neighbor) to these powerful words:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low by you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
Our "pleasure to participate" is different enough from "freely and heartily yielding" to be noted. One thing adding our pleasure does is to square the pleasure – mine and yours.