Blogging Towards Sunday September 20
This is the second of three similarly constructed stories in Mark's
retelling of Jesus. Each time Jesus reveals or predicts that he will be killed. Each time a or the disciples reject his prediction, either pretending not to hear or not wanting to understand or even
taking Jesus on in order to set him straight. In this passage the disciples don't want to understand, they're too busy focusing on who's the greatest, thinking about what they're going to get - their name in spotlights on the marquee since they placed their bets with the 'best' teacher, the master that will take them all the way to the bank or make them famous.
It's not that being "big" or "great" is bad as much as that Jesus is trying to question what it is that makes us great. Rather than taking all the place available, it's about creating space for others. A probable word-play in the Greek and Aramaic words for "child" and "servant/slave" is Jesus' way of turning upside down the notion of greatness. The first shall be last and the last first. The child in the story was probably not as clean and perky as those in this photo. Kids were at the bottom of the social ladder. Unwanted babies would be left in the open to die (Greek Culture). Most died young. Why invest time in someone who wouldn't be around. So Jesus speaks with a paradox that's meant to challenge the way in which we see the world, each other and God.
How do we welcome others: the children, forgotten, marginalized, overlooked in our midst? The Bible often calls them the orphan, the widow and the foreigner, insisting that God is first and foremost their God. So ho are the orphans, widows and foreigners in our midst today, in our churches, in our societies? I can't help think about the ongoing debate and at-times verbally violent monologues about health care: who has it. who shouldn't. who is like Hitler. who is a liar. and who should shut up. How do we profess our discipleship in the way that we welcome others, with our words, in our dialogs, via the expression of our political convictions, with our time and resources? Often we're so busy trying to move to the head of the table and get a good spot that we don't realize we've taken up all the room.
I think of the global church - the global community of those who claim to be followers of Jesus and his teachings. How are we welcoming, including and following Jesus in the ways in which we are addressing the challenges before us: the use and place of technology, political division in our faith communities, confusion and lack of unity in terms of understanding the Bible and professing faith in an increasingly pluralistic society, the role of race and class in our communities. Jesus basically says that to follow him means to conform our lives to his, to walk after him....what does that look like for us, for you - for your church community today?