With the final episode of Downton Abbey airing, there is a certain heartfelt sorrow for us fans worldwide in seeing the series come to an end. Due to the meticulous details, outstanding performances and the lovely writing style of Julian Fellowes, viewers can't help but find themselves drawn back in time, closely identifying with one or more characters. Watching how their attitudes affect how they deal with their personal set of circumstances, each struggling and serving someone or something, whether they be apart of the upper class or working class. The way in which they banter is fascinating, and observing dialogue without interruptions due to texting is beautiful thing to behold. Nowadays, we can relate to being Lord or Lady Grantham of our own estate, as well as being the maid, cook, chauffeur, butler, household manager and gardener all rolled into one, just on a smaller scale, of course.
Many of us probably have upper class and working class family ties intertwined in our ancestry. My grandfather, who ran for Governor of Alabama against Wallace in the seventies, worked his way to being a millionaire, as did two of his siblings. They were all children of hard working class parents. As I was growing up, being a head strong, first born child raised in private school, I had my Lady Mary like moments. However, difficult times and finding out I was conceived at a KOA campground in Pigeon Forge sort of popped my insulated bubble of grandeur and provided a humorous antidote for my pride. After years of maturing (still maturing) I have a much more servant minded outlook. Looking back, I can see where God was humbling and training me. When I first moved to Atlanta, it was solely to pursue a career in acting. To support that desire and dream, I waited tables, then took a job as a nanny of four precious children for several years. I had my plans for success and God had His plans for me. Now having worked in a large church for over a decade and because of those combined years in service, I feel a huge connection with the servant characters of Downton Abbey and also appreciate how well they are acted out.
It just so happens that my own workplace not only reflects a similar physical appearance to Downton, but some significant spiritual parallels as well. It may sound a bit strange, but working and serving in a large church is very much like partaking in the running of a grand estate, but with greater responsibilities and reverberations. The collective heart's desire of the church is to love God wholeheartedly, to love others and to share the good news of God's love. An outward sign of that love is our joyful service to God and those around us. It is a serious matter, for we know our Lord and Master, who deeply cares for us, sees everything, for nothing can truly be hidden and we will all be called to give an account. Our attitudes are extremely important too, for God loves a cheerful giver. Which applies to all that we give, not just monetary gifts, but how we give of our time.
When I come to work, It looks like the opening scene of Downton Abbey (would loved to have had the backside of one of our white waddling ducks striding confidently across the sprawling green lawn towards the church, just like Lord Grantham's dog). And just as the windows open in the second frame of the intro, these large doors on hinges are opened in the morning to get ready for the day's events.
As I walk down the hallways with keys dangling by my side, just as Mrs. Hughes, now Mrs. Carson, but addressed as Mrs. Hughes, I feel the anticipation of having everything ready for our teachers and the arrival of our guests. We use what would seem very high tech tools of communication compared to the ringing bells of Downton's time, but technology is ever changing and soon these pagers will be considered, if not already, old school. This is just a small sample of our many radios and pagers.
Even one of the staircases has a familiar look to the one in Downton connecting the downstairs servant's hall to the grand upstairs. The fact is, we all work as a team to provide the very best experience as we open the doors of our church. A church building established on prayers and by the tithes and contributions of many, those with little to extravagant means coming together to create a place for Christians and those interested in knowing more about God to come worship, fellowship and serve Him, The Lord of the house.
I could go on with the pictures: a coffee pot warming, Ritz crackers on a napkin with a sippy cup sitting off to the side and vacuum cleaners going about, but I shall stop. Most striking to me, are the connections I see in how the servants at Downton and the servants of The Lord handle their duties. One of my favorite Downton characters is Mr. Carson. His love for the family he serves has been a valuable teaching tool in sharing with my son how important our attitudes are in serving God and others. He truly invests himself in his duty, with integrity and giving his very best. He is not perfect but he strives to please his master in a sincere fashion and holds those under his care accountable. Another favorable character is Tom Branson, who started out as the chauffeur, but now has been grafted into the Crawley family by marriage and a precious daughter. His growing devotion and love for the family he once disagreed with and disliked in many ways reminds me of the person who doesn't understand the church and how it operates to becoming someone devoted to God and to the assembling of believers in Christ.
If we work to just be paid and have our needs met, then we miss out on a great deal. There are many who work faithfully with a heart felt love for those they serve and their coworkers and it shows! Over the years, I have met a wide variety of personalities from diverse backgrounds and I am happy to observe that the vast majority seem to go above and beyond in their service to others and work with a sincerity of heart. Again, not to imply everyone gets it right all the time, but overall, there is a wonderful atmosphere of love and joyful attitudes that are entwined with responsibility, accountability, and grace. It's a safe place to share brutally honest difficulties and feel compassion when we find ourselves struggling.
My bosses' leadership and direction over the past eleven years has been a huge blessing in my life, for which I am very grateful. Watching her sincere love for the Lord, her respect for those in authority over her and how she leads her team has been beyond just a valuable experience. It makes my heart happy to be apart of a group working together in love, humility and integrity to serve those around us. Just as in Downton, we are a family!
So may all of us who are in the body of Christ around the world get ready, for our Lord and Master is coming back and we should be about His business, sharing the Good News of what He has done for all mankind and preparing for His return. And may those who do not know God, seek Him now while He may be found, for He is not only a Good Lord but a Good Father. If interested, please feel free to check out our testimonies. It would be our pleasure to share the goodness of our Lord with you!
John 15:15-17 says, "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another."
Christina is an
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