Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel According to St. Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." 10:36 And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" 10:37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 10:38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" 10:39 They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 10:40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." 10:41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 10:42 So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 10:43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 10:44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

The Gospel of the Lord . . . .


Becoming Servants of All

Today whenever we go out to buy a new product like an appliance or a new vehicle or something --- We want to know what level of service we can expect if the thing breaks down? In other words, we know that at some point in the future, (hopefully the distant future!), whatever we have purchased whether it's something mechanical or electronic sooner or later we may need to obtain some help to service the thing. It could be just maintaining it or it could be replacing a major component, like transmission! that requires the expertise of a qualified service worker.

Many years ago, when I was a fairly young teenager, my friends and I got interested in putting together our own electronic equipment. There was this company that sold radios and stereo equipment as "kits" that you could buy from the store and assemble it yourself at home. Well, I bought one of these kits, I think it was a little amplifier, like something you might use to play an eight-tract tape player or records or something it made things just a little louder than normal (much to my parents dismay!!).

Well the little kit I got was one of the most simple kits that the company made . . . and wouldn't you know it, when I plugged my "completed" kit into the wall socket and thru the switch, there was a noise a very loud noise!!! And then there was kind of a "POP" and then the lights went out, not just on the little amplifier, BUT IN THE WHOLE HOUSE!!

As I sat there in the darkness, looking at my little amplifier kit (now smoldering) . . . I thought to myself, "I NEED TO CALL THE SERVICE DEPT."

Now it's a Funny thing, how, at this point, MOM and DAD took a very active interest in "My Little Electronic Project!"!!

ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE TO CALL THE SERVICE MAN TO COME AND REWIRE THE ENTIRE HOUSE!!

Well, things weren't quite that bad, but Dad took me down right away to the electronic store and we went in to speak with the SERVICE HELPER GUYS.

Now you have to appreciate that this was the early 1970's computers were not even in the calculator stage yet . . . or if you got one it was like $400!! So in I come with my little amplifier thing, there's other people there who look like they would know what they were doing . . . but we all knew the same feeling "Somewhere, inside of our neat little box of wires and stuff, I screwed up!!"

Nevertheless, we were learning new things -- "Gonna get a job in this field some day . . . ."

It only took the service guy about 2 minutes to see where I had gone wrong with my project. There's these little things called "Diodes", and they can only be put into the wiring (circuit board) in one special direction Of course I figured out a way to put them in backwards!!

ENNNGGGHH!!! Puffff . . . .

Fortunately, the guy at the store was merciful and kind to me, in all of my 13 years of wisdom. He patiently showed me how to replace the transistor that I'd burnt up (the most expensive component in my little gizmo! of course!!) and helped me reverse the direction of the diodes, and then the thing worked great!!! Later in life I even passed it on to my younger sister with, of course, the EIGHT TRACT TAPE PLAYER! Where have those days gone??

Now, part of the moral of this story is that . . . 1. You need to keep a Close EYE on your "Thirteen-year-old" whenever there's electricity involved!!! 2. The other part of the story that relates to Today's theme-character, JAMES. What we're trying to learn here is that a Qualified SERVICE man, (or woman) is kind, concerned, and is always seeking to provide CUSTOMER SERVICE for his clientele.

James, you might say SURPASSED the call of duty, especially in today's Impersonal VOICE MESSAGING WORLD!.

So who was this guy James anyway? If you're a student of the scriptures you may be confused, or if your really quite good, then maybe you already know that St. James "The Elder" was the brother of John, the Son of Zebedee, and the Son of Salome. Now if you remember, Salome was with the two Mary's at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified . . . presumably Salome is the sister of Mary, and therefore the cousin of Jesus. You may remember James more easily as being one of the first Disciples that Jesus calls. They were mending their nets when Jesus called to them, "Follow me, I will make you fishers of men."

JAMES WAS A MAN WHO HAD DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO SERVING THE LORD BY SERVING THE CHURCH.

AS we heard in the Lesson from Acts -- James had taken on a leadership role in the Church . . . Which, by Jesus' definition, The Leader Serves the Flock, Leads by example, and is not ashamed nor afraid to lead -- even when suffering is involved. (Boy, this is kind of striking close to home)

NEVERTHELESS, we have heard what Jesus says to his enthusiastic disciples in those early days when they were walking down the road with Jesus. "Hey Lord, we want you to do whatever we ask!" To which Jesus replies, "You do not even know what you are asking. Are You able to drink the cup that I drink?? Or be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized??"

In their naivety, James and John answer, "Yes Lord!" And even though they still don't understand what they are getting into, Jesus tells them that they "will DRINK from the cup, and they will undergo the baptism with which he was baptized", but it will not be one of refreshment rather suffering, persecution and ultimately martyrdom. This is SERVANTHOOD in its ultimate form. Giving of ourselves for the sake of others, or so that another will come into the faith or be held secure in the arms of the Church.

James gives his life to Discipleship as a Witness to the faith formed in him by the Lord Jesus. He does what he does because of his unreserved faith in Jesus' resurrection, and he does what he does also because he seeks to serve others or through his position, he is going to be sure that others are served in the church through the preaching of the word, the distribution of alms (food) to the poor, especially the widows, and by maintaining good order in the church.

The story has been told of an old Army Colonel, crusty old guy, not easily pleased and gruff -- even when he was in a good mood! One day his aid, a frail corporal, hesitantly approached the Colonel to give him paperwork to sign. "Requisitions for supplies for the company chaplain," the Corporal shyly told the Colonel. At first the old Colonel scowled at the aid when he stood at the Colonel's desk holding out the paper work needing signatures, but when the Colonel saw who the papers were to benefit his scowl turned into a look of deep concern, an expression that could be described as compassionate. In an unusually reverent tone and gesture, the Colonel kind of seemed to shrink in his position of command behind the dark and important looking desk, his jacket, complete with many bars of medals for his bravery and service to country even seemed to mellow as he reached to receive the paperwork with a kind of bowing action.

After carefully laying the crisp paperwork on his desk in front of him and squinting through his sharp eyes to read the Chaplain's name and company. The old Colonel then looked up at the aid who waited nervously expecting some gruff orders to be barked out. But instead, the old Colonel spoke with what almost sounded like a soft voice He said, "The only reason you and I are here is to take care of chaplains who are taking care of soldiers and their families." We can't always give the chaplains everything they want, but we need to do the very best that we can for them. Remember that whenever a chaplain asks for help." The Aid was so impressed! Here was a man at the top who understood that his only reason for being "in charge" was to help the person at the bottom.

This makes an interesting point, THROUGH OUR POSITION, maybe we have been given some kind of authority in "this life". That is a privilege that a few of us bear, it is also a responsibility. That is, to use our power to make sure that "The least of those amongst us" are served, with equality and dignity.

James and the other disciples used their position to do just this . . . in a logical and business-like way they appointed the SEVEN DEACONS to go into the community and see to it that the widows would receive adequate food and in an equal manner. This was also Service Work. Philip was one of those who, although ordained a Deacon, went on to become the great Evangelist!! So another level of servanthood might be to encourage and appoint capable people to tasks where their gifts will work wonders for all preach the Gospel, serve the poor -- build the CHURCH. Does this sound familiar??

The Apostles shared the Good News about Jesus and they taught the Gentiles about the Prophetic Words of the Hebrew Scriptures. Later, when a famine hit the land of Palestine, it was the Gentile Believers who Shared of their food and resources with the Jewish Believers in Jerusalem . . . and so there was a kind of "GOOD FAITH SERVICE CONTRACT" being honored between JAMES' people and the Greek Christians up around Antioch.

A final thought on this lesson for us. It truly took God's Holy Spirit to speak to the disciples and to come upon the Gentile believers before there was unity and agreement and Mutual Serving. If you feel hesitant to go and serve people you might fear or if you feel that God is calling you to do something for somebody that just crosses you the wrong way, then maybe this is the very issue you need to pray about. Ask God to give you a Servant's Heart, even as Christ formed in each of his disciples.

Let us Pray: Dear Lord, enable us to become Kind, Compassionate, and QUALIFIED SERVICE WORKERS -- to build up your people in every place One Life at a time.

AMEN

Read more writings of Pastor Jon