Speak for Yourself (First Advent)

Jesus said, “The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like this: Two men will be working in the field – one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill – one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up”. (Matthew 24: 39 – 42)

James Earl Jones has one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood (think Darth Vader in Star Wars, Mufasa in The Lion King, and “This is CNN”). Yet you might be surprised to learn that as a child he stuttered terribly and dreaded public speaking. His career as an actor may have never gotten off the ground if it hadn’t been for his high school English teacher and mentor, the poet David Crouch. It seems Jones had written a poem that Crouch called into question. As Jones tells the story in various accounts, including on the Harvard “Who Mentored You” website and in an interview with the Daily Mail, Crouch said to him, “Jim, this is a good poem. In fact it is so good I don’t think you wrote it. I think you plagiarised it. If you want to prove you wrote it, you must stand in front of the class and recite it from memory”.

“I did as he asked,” says Jones, and to everyone’s amazement, “I got through it without stuttering … This had a tremendous effect on me, and my confidence grew as I learned to express myself comfortably out loud. On the last day of school, Professor Crouch presented me with a gift – a copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance. This was invaluable to me because it summed up what he had taught me – self-reliance”.

Advent is our time to become spiritually self-reliant. We must each do the work God calls us to do. No one can live our faith for us. We must speak and act for ourselves and show God our readiness to serve.

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