Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost October 18, 2015
Who Wishes to Be Great
James and John approach Jesus and ask if they may be seated on Jesus’ right and left hand in his glory. “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus replies and then asks the important question: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Jesus assures them that they will in fact drink of his cup and be baptized with his baptism. He continues by pointing out that, unlike the case in worldly endeavors, to be great among their group would be to be a servant to them. Jesus wants them and us to serve in our communities.
We would ask ourselves these same questions frequently. In the service for baptism, the baptized in the congregation are asked: “How were you baptized?” The response is: “Into his death.”
It seems to be human nature to wish to be recognized; to have our fifteen minutes of fame; to be seated above the salt (closer to the host) at a state dinner. This is not what Jesus is about. He makes it clear to his disciples that he came to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. If we are to share in his baptism and in his cup, we must give ourselves over to God’s service.
Where is the source of recognition of this service? From God! God knows who we are and what we are about. God gives us commenda-tion and affirmation when we need it. God understands what we need. To accept the baptism and cup of Jesus may mean something different to each believer. It could mean forgoing new clothes to give the money to charity. It could mean eating simpler meals at home and giving the extra money to charity. It could mean walking the streets to help those you find there. God and the Holy Spirit can be trusted to help each one find his or her cross, their way to share the cup of Jesus.
Martha Griffis, elder, Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania