From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

So school has started and the kids should be getting their new teachers and classrooms today. It’s always exciting (for me, at least) to see what teachers the kids get and learn who we’ll be working with for the rest of the school year. We’ve had our fair share of teachers throughout the kids’ schooling careers, and I’d have to say on the most part we’ve been pretty lucky, in that most of their teachers have been excellent in their role of providing a good education for our children.

But I guess it’s not really fair for me to judge that, is it? I mean, I’m not a school teacher, so it’s not like I know what it’s like to teach 20 some odd elementary school aged children of varying levels of abilities and comprehension. So how can I really say what is “good”, “better”, or even the “greatest”. What would that even mean? By whose criteria?

If we really think about it, we have no place to judge others. We have no right to really “rate” or “rank” people. We really shouldn’t be comparing others or even ourselves.

Yet we do it all the time.

Here are the readings for next week:
Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalm 54
James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

See, even the disciples would compare themselves to each other. I guess I shouldn’t say “even” more like “of course”. Because they, like us, don’t always get it. It’s in our nature, I think, to just want to be the best.

And so we work hard to be the best, however the “best” might be defined. We grab more money, more things, more respect. We try to impress more people, check off more boxes on the “great” list, and gain popularity and votes. We might even sacrifice some of our morals for the cause, which is totally ironic when we look at what that cause is supposed to be about.

Jesus’ lesson for his disciples and us is that we needn’t compare ourselves to each other and try to gain any kind of prestige, because that doesn’t make us good people. It just makes us selfish and perhaps inconsiderate to the needs of others. Instead, Jesus proposes a better way, that we serve each other, do what we can for each other, and put the needs of others before our own. This way, we can lean on each other for support and strength. We can rely on our community to help and be helped. We can rest assured that what we do will matter, because what we do will be for the good of all.

In our world that is mostly about individualism, it is hard to see the bigger picture like this. It’s hard to see how we are all connected and depended on and dependent on each other. It’s hard to have the humility to be a servant.

But in that is where we taste, see, and know true greatness. Thanks be to God.

Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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