Vail Daily column: A good and faithful servant
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”
This ancient phrase, echoing from Christian scripture down through the ages, is reserved for those distinctive souls who are profoundly faithful in serving God and their neighbor. Last Sunday, I invoked these words, from one of Jesus’ many powerful teaching parables, to award a very deserving community servant leader with a very special award. And I wanted you to know!
In the intensified, hyper-scheduled pace of our winter resort community, something very significant just occurred. Sara Fisher finished her final duty as an Eagle County commissioner, stepping down due to term limits. But while we can term limit a political position, thankfully we cannot limit a life dedicated to serving others with such devotion. I offer a brief appreciation for Sara’s life of community service.
I met Sara when I called to pastor the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Vail back in the fall of 1995. Sara was there every Sunday, faithfully doing whatever needed doing in our small church community. Cleaning, sweeping, teaching, greeting, cooking, busing tables, welcoming guests … Sara has done it all, in services to hundreds as well as groups of two and three, always with her warm smile and easy manner. Imagine my surprise to learn that the woman cleaning the kitchen after the potluck was the elected clerk and recorder of Eagle County! Sara served as our county clerk with distinction from 1993 until 2003. She then joined our church staff as my director of parish life, and in that capacity gathered our church family together at countless events for several years.
Sara discerned a renewed call to public service and was twice elected to the Board of Commissioners for Eagle County, serving from 2007 until this month. In her tenure, she chaired the board in 2009, 2010 and 2013, a remarkable achievement in and of itself. Consider the economic recession, global turmoil and numerous fractious local initiatives the board navigated in those years. Sara’s pragmatic personality, combined with her dedicated love for our community, empowered her to bear the weighty mantle of public office with quiet dignity.
But Sara’s largest obstacle landed in December 2009, when she suffered a brain aneurysm which required surgery and a disciplined recovery. Sara’s comportment in the weeks and months following that traumatic injury models for me the very definition of a profile in sacrificial personal courage. For her to finish her term was nothing short of miraculous, and Sara subsequently ran for re-election to a second and final term, and won! Her fortitude and determined perseverance inspire me and many others to this day.
It saddens me that we live in a world where public leadership is more often commentated by critique than by appreciation. As a pastoral leader, I well understand the deeply intimate costs associated with any offering of personal leadership in the public sphere. My appreciation of Sara transcends political affiliation, specific votes taken, or whether or not I align with positions Sara took in her public life. My gratitude for Sara’s service, and others like her, recognizes the legacy of 17 years in elective office dedicated to the common good.
For those years, and those sacrifices, and the mantle of governance Sara carried on our communal behalf, I am grateful. For her husband Bill, affectionately called “Fish” by Sara, who has loyally companioned Sara as her husband and life partner, I am grateful. For Sara’s past and continued ministry of servant leadership in our church, I am grateful.
Communities, and churches, are built upon the shoulders of servant leaders like Sara Fisher. In recognition of her legacy of humble service to our community and congregation, last Sunday I awarded Sara the Rector’s Cross, my annual gift to those who exemplify the sacrificial service to others Jesus taught us to emulate. And I wanted you to know.
In the words of Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
The Rev. Brooks Keith serves as rector, or senior pastor, of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration throughout the Vail Valley.
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