Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 7: Year 2
“It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 26 – 28)
Jesus has just heard the plea of John and James (his brother) along with their mother. It appears that she asks Jesus to let her sons be on his right and left side in his kingdom. To this he explains, it is not his to give. The other apostles find out and are angered by their request. Jesus calls them together and explains the difference between this world and heaven. On earth, we have a lordship of tyranny where we rule by threats and punitive measures. In heaven, it is a kingdom of servanthood.
I’m guessing the problem I have with the language of Jesus, as it is translated and spoken in Matthew, is the part about “whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.” These words still show an initial goal of seeking the self-serving glory of being great, or, of being first. Can we not live to serve and be happy with serving without looking forward to sitting on the right or left hand of our Lord and Savior in some kind of shared glory? Let’s just be ok helping others to be ok. Ok?
Today we also remember James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. He was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University. (http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/james_weldon_johnson.htm)
I am always interested in men and women who used more of themselves for the good of the world than most of us even know we have. James Weldon Johnson worked to make this world a better place. We still have a long way to go. But if more of us would make use of our own God-given gifts, we, you and I, could bring about happiness and world peace more quickly. I believe happiness and world peace is God’s plan for creation. And, God is going to win no matter what. But all of this could be expedited if we would follow the examples of people like Johnson and others who made use of all the blessings God has already given us. Explore your gifts. What gifts do you have that you haven’t used yet? Try. You take one step and God will take two.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John