Monday, June 29, 2009


News anchors sadly reported that Ed McMahon died today. He had a long and shining series of careers on his own, was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the Marine Corps with a second tour of duty in the military. However, he was best known for two words he made famous when he introduced his boss on the late show each night: “HEEERE’S JOHNNY!” For 30 years he was Johnny Carson’s sidekick, the straight man for the comedian.

There are more supporting roles in life than there are lead positions; more people behind the camera in life than those in the spotlight; more people in the chorus line than the glamorous diva out front and more in the choir than have solo parts. All are essential for the entire performance of life as God, The Producer, has planned it. He chooses the leading roles and the understudies; He hands out the scripts, and directs the drama.

Who has a career goal to be an “extra”? Writers of scripts don’t get the same reviews as the actors whose names are emblazoned in glittering lights on marquees. The prominent of this world, the rich and famous, and those in the public arena are bigger than life; they are lauded and applauded and memorialized when they die.

Meanwhile ordinary men and women, century after century, are also chosen by God and loved by Him. They fulfill their appointed destinies and receive their reward in heaven with His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” Moms and Dads, whose most important contribution in life is to “raise tiny mortals,” as one of my friends so aptly puts it, are changing the world by little pieces every day. We may call them unsung heroes.

When the names are scrolled at the end of a movie or performance, the list seems endless—names most of us will never remember, but without whom the production could not have been presented. Only a few names stand out in salvation history as recounted in the Old Testament, and they are known only by their first names. Millions of ordinary folk were in the category referred to as “the children of Israel.” We have every reason to believe God knew each of them by name and distinguishes one from the other, and loves each one because of what Jesus said about His Father knowing each sparrow that falls and the number of hairs on our heads.

John the Baptist did not aspire to the limelight; he knew who he was and who he was not. He is known, we may say, as Ed McMahon was, for introducing Jesus: “HEEERE’S THE LAMB OF GOD!” Of Jesus’ twelve disciples, only three are most prominent; the rest carried out their supporting roles just as faithfully as the leading three when they were sent out to evangelize the world. So did the unnamed 120 in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. Matthias was chosen to take Judas’ place but we hear no more about his role. Barnabas, a disciple of Jesus before Paul was converted, became his sidekick, so to speak. Above all, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, with her willing “Fiat” gave herself to God in the prime supporting role in salvation history.

God chooses our role in life for us, whether a lead role or a supporting part. It is not about us. What greater honor could any of us have than to be remembered as one who introduced our Boss proclaiming, “HEEERE’S JESUS!”


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