Sun., Sept. 23, 2018 18th Pentecost Year B “Great… Just Great!” (children's message)
Can you name somebody who is the best at something? Somebody Great? Maybe a great athlete or coach? (Lebron James, Urban Myer) Or a great person in history… (Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks). What do or did they do that was so great? (Wait for responses and give affirmation like “good, that is great.”)
Now I want you to think of somebody that you couldn’t get along without? Who makes a difference in your life? Maybe they keep you safe, or make you feel special. Maybe they make you feel loved. Who would name like that? (allow responses) You didn’t name any of those great people we talked about earlier. You named people who help you. People who help us are important to us. But you know what is interesting people who help us even though they are so important to us are not often called great. People who help are often called servants. These people who have a great impact on your life…in fact you could say “The Greatest” folk are actually servants, not superheroes or super athletes or all that, just servants.
Jesus heard his disciples arguing about who’s the greatest. They were arguing about who did this or that the best. He told them, “Anyone who wants to be great needs to become a servant.” A servant may not be the best at everything but they still make a great impact on people. And in God’s eye’s helping God’s children (other people) is the greatest. You can be the greatest, just by helping others. How many of you can help your parents? How many of you can help your family? How many of you could help a friend? A neighbor? That’s Great…just great! I’m looking at a whole bunch of youth that can be the greatest. Go be great for God. Amen.
Sun. Sept 23 2018 18th Pentecost Year B “Great… Just Great!”
Who’s the greatest? It’s a silly question to be arguing about but you can’t open a sports page without being reminded of the records of so and so and the accomplishments of such and such. It’s natural and innate. So before we condemn those “egotistical disciples” we need to admit our own ego trips. We all want to be great, to be remembered for something. And we can long to make a difference. Yet, when we strive to be great we should take heed of Christ’s words and determine “great” according to who?
In the mid 90’s when I served a church outside of Washington DC I was introduced to a woman who worked for a major oil company. They asked me if I’d been to a local gas station- I thought maybe she owned it. No, she had just been responsible for an experimental project that had been placed there. She was introduced as the key person on the team that developed and designed the method and mechanism by which we insert our credit card and within 5 seconds it’s approved and withdrawing from our account the amount we purchase. She hoped it would catch on. WOW! That invention caught on like WILD FIRE!! Within the year gas stations around the country were upgrading to this new-fangled system. GREAT right!? However, I remember that within 6 months of that introduction this great innovator , creator, female leader in her field had been laid off.
It taught me that fame is fleeting, power is problematic, and greatness fades. “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant.” We’re constantly reminded of the greats an challenged to strive for their accomplishments. We’re not only challenged to meet those great standards but to surpass them. It’s not good enough until you take the number 1 slot. We live in an age of “Who’s Number One?” But how great is it to be No. #1?
I’ve used this exercise before but it bears repeating. How many of the last 10 Superbowl and World Series winners can you name? How many gold medalists at the last Olympics? Last 10 Indy 500 winners? These are the “greats” according to the world’s standards. Now how many of you can name a teacher that made a positive difference in your life? Can any of you remember the name of a good friend when you were 10 years old, or even a friend from just 10 years ago? Who had the greater impact on your life- the Superbowl winner or the friend, teacher, or as Jesus might term them a servant?
If any of you wish to be great you must become a servant. Who’s telling the truth and who’s selling a lie? Some 2000 years ago “The Greatest” were the Roman rulers who could gather thousands together in their coliseums to watch them put to death a handful of nutty cultists for not bowing to the great Roman God’s of Apollo and Zeus and Caesar. Today we gather together hundreds of thousands to worship Jesus in congregations across this country and millions gather around the world. And what about those former greats?
Well, first let me say something about those nutty cultists…we name our children after the nutty cultists who died in coliseums: Paul, Stephen, Mary, Peter. And those former greats? That’s what we name our pets: Zeus, Caesar, and Apollo!
“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37)
You want to make a difference? Serve! You want to see greatness? Serve in God’s name! The Apostle James, in our second lesson phrased it this way, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8) You want to find God? Lose yourself and serve; God will meet you there, in your serving.
Men’s Breakfast- Harold remembers the first person warm handshake when came with his wife to GLC, SERVANT/GREAT we have new members who know they’re welcomed because their children are welcomed, how do they know this we have an elderly member who despite all the arthritis slides to the end of the pew and gives high five to her children as they pass-SERVANT/GREAT
The wonderful aspect of this reality is that everyone, every one of us in these pews has an opportunity in our lifetime to be GREAT. God has given us an opportunity to be great by giving all of us an opportunity to serve: through teaching Sunday school, volunteering for a mission trip, ushering, giving a high five. We don’t have to be top tier athletes, popular politicians, or moneyed ego maniacs to be great in God’s eyes and in many of the eyes of folks we care about, all we need do is swallow our pride, set aside our self-centeredness and serve in Christ’s name.
Serve our family, serve our husband or wife, serve our parents, or children, serve our students, serve the needy, serve our community, and serve our country. One of the things that makes Jesus great is he is an amazing servant. Our Lord is willing to set aside heaven to sit with us. Jesus is willing to carry the cross to lift our burdens. Jesus is willing to die for us so we might live for him. It is so cool to think that God, who runs the universe, takes time out of his busy schedule just to check up on us. God even wants to find out what we need and answer that need. That’s great news. Great as in ...just great!
Jesus is willing to serve us and that’s great, but here’s the question are we willing to serve him? Can we find time, make time for greatness? I’m not talking greater career, greater sales, or greater vacations because that’s not true greatness. Greatness comes when we serve in Christ’s name, love on one another for Jesus’ sake. When you think of greatness the way God does, we’ve all been given the opportunity to achieve greatness. That’s great news. Its great...just great! So if we all serve, we can say ala Tony the Tiger “We’re GREEEEEAAAT!!