Saturday, October 17, 2009

B. Pentecost 20 Proper 24 - Mark 10:43-45 "In Order To Serve Us"

One for you; one and a bit for me! One for you; two for me! One for you; two for me, and while you're not looking another two for me!
Have you ever let children serve desert? It's an interesting exercise to undertake; especially if they don't know you're watching.
Then when the child, who's been diddled out of his or her portion, wakes up with protest, precision is called for. And then you'll find kids cutting up cake with absurd accuracy, even with the tape measure out, lest the one being served gets one less crumb or calorie.
To serve or to be served! When cake or sweets are to be divided it's amazing how many of us line up to serve! Or, if we allow ourselves to be served, we might act cool, calm, and collected, but heaven help the person serving if the knife slips a little in favour of them.
Servants lording it over those who should be served! It's been happening since Adam walked the earth. It doesn't matter if it's kids cutting cake to share, politicians propping up their position, public servants doing the public a disservice, or any other self-promoting tall-poppy eliminating works, every human being seeks to self-serve a better helping for themselves than the next person.
No one is excused from thinking and working this way. Some of us hide it better than others appearing to be better servants. You might be the quiet retiring type hanging back; perhaps waiting to have the last word. Or, you might be the extraverted one, loud, always seeking to have the first word. Either covertly or overtly, all of us move ourselves into what we think might be the most beneficial positions for ourselves.
The sons of Thunder, James and John, also moved to secure the best places for themselves just prior to Jesus marching into Jerusalem to be betrayed into the hands of those who would nail him to the cross.
And like any of us the other disciples, full of pride, quickly get their noses out of joint. Perhaps, they became annoyed that these two would do such a thing? Or, maybe they were irritated because they didn't think of it first!
But Jesus calls the disciples together and speaks to them saying… "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43-45)
This word of Jesus is the key and central theme of Marks gospel account. Mark's gospel was a written account of Peter's apostolic witness to the persecuted church gathering in Roman homes. And so too for us it's hard to go about life with a servant attitude when we're victimised and persecuted. It's so easy to fall into the "woe is me" mentality where we then seek to get a greater slice of life's cake, no matter what it takes or who it might hurt.
God's mindset led him to create an order where the first was made to serve what came after it. God's order of service came to be, in order to serve us! We see how he does this in his creation account at the beginning of Genesis.
On the first day of the week God spoke and creation's light came to be. On the very first day, Sunday, God created time.
Then on Monday, the second day of the week he separated water from sky. And so to this day what was created on the first day is there to serve what was made on the second day. And so the sky and the heavens are served by time and distance. Even today space and land are measured by light-years, days, degrees, minutes, and seconds.
Time serves water and sky so they both might serve the next thing created by God's word, on Tuesday — land, water, and vegetation. With out dirt, water, air, and time, vegetation would be nonexistent.
In the middle of the creation week stands Wednesday, and a second series of events begin which parallel the first three days. Here God creates light. Not light in the sense of time as he did on the first day, but light in the sense of warmth and exposure, creating days and nights, sun moon and stars, which govern the seasons and tides. Light-time created on the first day serves seasonal light created on the fourth day.
Then on the fifth day, Thursday, God created birds and fish, which are served by what he created on the second day — the waters above, the blue sky, and the waters below, the ocean. Birds and fish are also served by the seasons and the vegetation on the land, as well as the water from the ocean. Then God spoke again and bless them so that they might multiply and fill the earth.
Everything to this point had been created to serve the things created on Friday, the sixth day. God spoke and animals were created, wild animals, and creatures that move along the ground. He even made domestic animals too, surprisingly before anyone was there to domesticate them. We see God's pattern here; he created livestock to serve what was to be created next. And everything God had done was good and pleasing in his eyes!
The last thing God created was to make people in his image. Man and woman were made. All things created, from time, to sunshine and rain, to water, to fish, birds, and plants were created to serve those created on Friday, animals and people. And God gave his authority to people to rule over his creation to subdue it and be fruitful within it. Now God's creation was very good.
We can see God's order of service came to be in order to serve us. God was there at the beginning of his creation, he is here throughout the order of his creation, and there at the end he was and will be resting in his creation. All things were created to serve us and we were sought to serve God by resting with and in him on the Sabbath, the seventh day of creation, Saturday. God's order created to serve us ends one cycle with a day of being with him for re-creation.
In fact this period of seven days stands apart from time which God created on the first day and the nights and days or seasons God created on the fourth day. This period of a week is imposed on us as a cycle of good order, served by creation itself, so that we might have holy days of recreation or holidays re-created in and with God.
But all our apples went rotten on that day where humanity wanted a bigger slice of the action, and from that day God's creation has been riddled with chaos and carnage. We turn our holy days into self-serving holidays where being with God in his holiness is often put a distant second after the more important things on our busy schedules.
And so the opposite occurs! The days we use for ourselves for holidays get lost by the stress of organising our chaotic lives to get them. Our time of re-creation is exhausted by the constant demands of our recreation feats watching or playing sport and so forth.
The creation God gives us to serve us, enslaves us. Weeds worry us and labour pains us. We become slaves to each following generation, as weeds evolve and our kids get more and more wisdom, sooner and sooner, from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The more we seek to be served the more we must serve to just even survive. The order and peace created in the old seven day week, slides further and further into disorder, dis-ease, chaos and confusion.
God's order of service was corrupted by humanity; disorder occurred through our desire to be served. Therefore, in order to service us once again God sent his Son not to be served, but to serve. And his service was the ultimate act of service in that Jesus gave his life on the cross as a ransom for us whose lives are enslaved and constantly disrupted by sin and death.
In order to serve us God sent his Son in order to save us. So in Christ we see the eternal order of things to come — forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Amen.