Gleanings – The Great Reversal of Fortune, Again!

Mark 9:30-41

“They were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.”

It is embarrassing isn’t to be caught thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. And it should be. For in the great reversal of fortune that Jesus represents the last shall be first. Such thinking reduces all of our talk of greatness to just blathering.

Now the vast majority of us don’t go around exalting ourselves at every turn though most of us have probably experienced someone who does. No, most of us say it in more subtle ways, even in the way we order our lives.

Once, while in seminary, I was late to a committee meeting of some sort. When I arrived I made the appropriate apology and added “I didn’t mean to hold things up.” A woman retorted snidely that I should not be so narcissistic. The meeting was not delayed because of me. Ouch. Granted she was a whacked out leftist with whom I was at odds about almost everything theologically speaking. She took great pleasure in drawing blood from me especially in front of others. There was likely sin in her motives. But there was enough truth in what she said to suggest some needed introspection on my part. Thinking one is important doesn’t need to be grandiose in presentation.

All this is to say there is greatness in the Kingdom but it comes from service. And that service embraces those on the margins especially the children of first century Palestine. It is difficult for us in the United States to have any appreciation for the lack of regard for children in that day. We’ve moved in our day from gratitude for a roof over our head to entitlement, the right of each child to have a bedroom suite complete with cable and a flat screen TV. Regardless, we are meant to embrace those who have no chance of greatness and little chance of not being overlooked routinely.

So as Good Friday and the commemoration of the ultimate act of service draws near, we must be asking ourselves where are we embracing folks on the margin. For me, the process begins with remembering I have been caught thinking more highly of myself than I ought.


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