Here is the poem I used today in the sermon, plus a few thoughts/after-thoughts regarding it.
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to the silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth, more famous than the dress shoe, which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing the streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.
--“Famous” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
(Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995) by Naomi Shihab Nye..
"Famous" is not a word used very often to describe Christian service. In fact, I would never use it, except in the sense the poem suggests. The author is not writing about the Christian life, but it instructs my thoughts about humility and what is important about serving others.
The fame to shy away from is a notoriety that elevates self. The emphasis is self-serving and the giver is elevated instead of the author of all good gifts. What is described in the poem is the value of doing what one can, as one can, for another. In Christian service we do what we can, as we can, on behalf of others, for the Glory of God.
Still in one peace, Stephen