The Least

Here's a story you'll probably all be familiar with.

One day a Lion lay asleep in the jungle. A tiny Mouse, running about in the grass and not noticing where he was going, ran over the Lion's head and down his nose.

The Lion awoke with a loud roar, and down came his paw over the little Mouse. The great beast was about to open his huge jaws to swallow the tiny creature when "Pardon me, O King, I beg of you," cried the frightened Mouse. "If you will only forgive me this time, I shall never forget your kindness. I meant no harm and I certainly didn't want to disturb Your Majesty. If you will spare my life, perhaps I may be able to do you a good turn, too."

The Lion began to laugh, and he laughed and laughed. "How could a tiny creature like you ever do anything to help me? And he shook with laughter.

"Oh well," he shrugged, looking down at the frightened Mouse, "you're not so much of a meal anyway." He took his paw off the poor little prisoner and the Mouse quickly scampered away.

Some time after this, some hunters, trying to capture the Lion alive so they could carry him to their king, set up rope nets in the jungle. The Lion, who was hunting for some food, fell into the trap. Her roared and thrashed about trying to free himself but with every move he made, the ropes bound him tighter.

The unhappy Lion feared he could never escape, and her roared pitifully. His thunderous bellows echoed through the jungle.The tiny Mouse, scurrying about far away, heard the Lion's roars. "That may be there very Lion who once freed me," he said, remembering his promise. And he ran to see whether he could help.

Discovering the sad state the Lion was in, the Mouse said to him, "Stop, stop! You must not roar. If you make so much noise, the hunters will come and capture you . I'll get you out of this trap."

With his sharp little teeth the Mouse gnawed at the ropes until they broke. When the Lion had stepped out of the net and was free once more, the Mouse said, "Now, was I not right?"

"Thank you, good Mouse," said the Lion gently. "You did help me even though I am big and you are so little. I see now that kindness is always worth while."

Of course we all know what the moral of the story is. Size and impressive stature aren't true measures of ability. Even the smallest of us has something they're good at. Everyone has something to contribute.

This is a lesson we are taught very early in life. Yet it seems there are still a great many people who are saying "I'm not good enough!" They don't live up to their potential because they are convinced that they have none.

sadly, we mortals are very good at lying to ourselves. How many of you have read the chronicles of Narnia? In Narnia, when one disbelieves the truth with all their might, it alters their perceptions of reality. Alexander the magician, convincing himself that the beasts of Narnia could not possibly be speaking, altered his mind so that all he could hear was growls and grunts. The dwarves in the last battle, sitting on the grass in Aslan's country, could only see the darkness of a little stable. The most succulent food appeared to them as horse feed. There was nothing that even the mighty Aslan could do to break them out of their delusion.

How like Alexander and the dwarves we can be. When one of us becomes so convinced that he is of no worth, or useless, or undesireable, he gives up trying to be what he can be, to do what he can do, and through self-delusion, quickly becomes as useless as he believes he is because he refuses to try anything.

Think of what it would have been like if those who were "little" refused to serve God because they thought they didn't have what it took.

Saul would never have become the first king of Israel. Maybe that's a good thing... After all, God chose Saul to prove to Israel that having a king was a bad idea. In any case, he fulfilled that particular role. He was also a great warrior, battling the Philistines with his last breath.

David, who was the littlest of Jesse's sons, not even considered for kingship by his father when Samuel came to do the annointing. He became the greatest king in all of human history.

Moses, who would have declined the post of prophet because of a severe speech impediment, became the greatest prophet of all time, save Jesus himself.

zachaeus, a dwarf, provided an example of obedience and repentance so pronounced that his story is one of the first we teach our children.

Joseph, sold into slavery and thrown into prison, hated by his family and mistreated by his master, became the ruler of egypt. Though he was under the pharoh, historical records and artifacts call Joseph himself Pharoh.

Daniel, likewise a slave and a captive, by his faithfulness to God, became high president of the Babylonian empire.

And then there's my favorite, Balaam's donkey.

Now that's not to say that all "little" people who serve faithfully will become people of renown. Take the lady depicted on our bulletin. The widdow who gladly gave her last two mites- everything she had to live on. We don't even know her name. We don't know a single thing about her. Yet her good deed shines as an example for us through two millenia. There was nothing special about this woman. She was not rich or powerful. We know of no extraordinary gifts she may have possessed. But think about all the lives that she has touched simply by giving. Peter. Nicholas. Luthor. Meno. King. Graham. Sunday. Robertson. Rogers. Now some of you may not like all of the folks I've mentioned, but you can't deny that the widow affected every single one of them. Big doors swing on small hinges. The course of mighty ships is steered by a small rudder. The greatest preachers of all time are able to serve in their capacity because those around them are willing to do their best at the tasks they are given.

And before any of you go thinking that the CFF will never have any impact on the world, here's a few things I'd like to bring to your attention...

Because of you, three communities or more on the pine ridge reservation have clothes this year. Because of you, they can count on this continued ministry.

Because of you, persecuted Hani families in China are able to stand firm in thier faith. Because of you, a missionary family continues to serve joyfully despite fear of the Chinese government.

Because of you, certain individuals who can't bring themselves to enter a physical church because of whatever reason now have a place where they are not afraid to fellowship and approach God.

Because of you, a young man who feels led to serve as a minister to the furry community is able to look forward to fulfilling his calling despite opposition from his own family.

Because of you, several homosexuals know that God loves them, despite what those who have stolen our name have told them.

Because of you, a number of individuals who have had terrible struggles with vices now have a number of understanding friends they can turn to and are better for it.

Because of you, the gospel is going out to places it hasn't been before. It's going to people who need to hear it.

And how much of it has been due to outpourings of extrordinary or unearthly gifts? None of it. It has been the lot of you doing what you can.

It has been because of Ashenfox playing music for us every day. It has been because of Draco Dei leading us into prayer. It has been because of Kaninus' generous giving. It has been because of Pyrefrost taking charge of our money. It has been Whaletrainer bridging the gap to Furs for Christ. It's Xyie's warm hello. It's Cap's friendly smile. It's Boogi showing up every week. It's Chiger praying for his enemies. It's Ann speaking an encouraging word.

You don't have to be supermen (or even superbeasts) to affect a difference.

For example, there is a certain young man among the group of preachers with which I hang on Wednesdays. He isn't very good at praying in front of others. In fact one may wnder how he became a pastor, being so bad at praying. Yet he shows up for prayer meeting week after week. The simple fact that he's there is a great encouragement to the regulars, especially when others don't show. It has also demonstrated to the other preachers that he's quite serious about his ministry, even when some would call his church a joke simply because of its unusual nature. Consequently, there are a number of Julesburg-area ministers praying for the good of St. Fred's Internet church and the Christian Furry Fellowship therein. Yes, that inarticulate fellow is me. I suppose that's one of the reasons I'm serving here at St. Fred's. I do much better praying in text than in speech.

So I want all of you to be encouraged. Don't be embarrassed or nervous about serving God because you thing you don't speak well or can't pray eloquently or aren't good enough. God has built his empire out of fishermen, shepherds, slaves, tentmakers, harlots, publicans, blind, deaf, mute, paralyzed... and this day, he is building cities in his empire out of furries (and nonfurries) great and small. whatever you have to contribute is good enough, when combined with the wondrous grace of Yaweh, to work wonders.

Pastor Oren Otter
August 26, 2006

Today's reading:
Luke 21:1

1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.