And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:42-45 (English Standard Version)
Welcome to the beginning of Advent 2018. It’s interesting that this year the First Day off Advent falls on the First Sunday in December, which is Communion Sunday in many Protestant Denominations.
Today, we commemorate our waiting for the coming of God’s Christ into our world. We await Jesus, God’s anointed, to come unto us and usher in the Realm of God. Jesus came to show us the Way of God, and bring us the Gospel-the good news. Today, we also remember the Seder dinner that same Jesus would have years later with his disciples on the night of his betrayal by Judas into the hands of the religious authorities.
However, instead of the usual passages of Scripture used in traditional liturgy, today’s Scripture jumped out at me. The text taken from Mark is usually not associated with Advent, however it sums up why Jesus came. Jesus came to turn the established order upside down (or probably right side up). First, Jesus made the greater to serve the lesser; instead of the traditional reversed arrangement. Second, he was to set a strange precedent: to give his life for many.
We will be referring to the above today as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion). It’s where we have our ministers serve the laity at a table open to all in the Boardinghouse-hold of Faith. I know my fellow deacons will serve our sick and shut-in members later in the day. Our work to exemplify the Christ who called us to serve. And when we’re called to give our lives, it calls for us to throw our lot in with God to wherever and whatever He/She leads us to.
The above flies in the face of today’s top-down power structures prevalent in our world-even in the Church itself. We seek power: from the janitor to the CEO; from the usher to the Senior Pastor/Elder/Bishop/Pope; from world leader to the dogcatcher. We are constantly reminded of this power system by those in power. And we’re warned that any insubordination-even if warranted-will be dealt with.
And to serve those beneath us? Surely you jest! We look down at those who are not in our sphere-regardless of who they are. And if we do serve, it’s not out of love but out of show. Plus we act as those we do serve ought to be grateful we do deign to serve them.
Don’t even talk about giving our lives unless it’s something that pays off for us and us alone. Sacrifice-no matter the size or situation-is old-fashioned and for fools.
Nevertheless, what God calls forth is paramount. Christ will come to serve God by serving and giving his life as a ransom for us. He will turn the tables on the power structures in his day. As we wait for the coming of the Christ and commemorate his last Seder, can’t we also do the same today?
Prayer: Almighty God, remind us in our hearts and minds that Your Christ came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for us. Keep us from emulating the top-down power structures of our day, looking to Lord over others. Instead, let Christ’s humility be seen in us this Advent Season and evermore. In Your Name, Amen.
Welcome to Advent 2018. Peace.
(Image: Oculus at the World Trade Center in New York City. September 21, 2018. By Me.)