I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Today many of the liturgical churches that use the Common Lectionary will be celebrating the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and the Gospel will be Mark 10:35-45.
In this text we see in the Church being born a problem that will plague God’s people until Jesus returns. It is the problem of power and what is it foir.
James and John know that Jesus is King. He has power. They want to share that power. They want , in the Kingdom of God, the power positions. These are the left and right hand chairs next to the King. They are bold enough to ask Jesus to give them those positions.
This, of course, angers the other disciples. At this point Jesus sits them all down and tells them something about His kingdom and power. What he tells them the Church and Christians have often ignored.
He says that the leaders of this world are tyrants and lord it over their subjects but it was not to be so with them. Instead , in the Church, the great ones are the servants. Then He points out that he came to serve and not be served.
How different the history of the world would be if the Church had listened to and followed those words.
But instead we see a history in which the pursuit of power often destroyed the message of the Church. We see Bishops fighting for control and having other Bishops killed. We see Pope’s having people they don’t agree with put to death. We see power used for power’s sake.
We see the Reformation Churches using power to force people to agree with them. We see religious wars. We cry for the Church filled over its history with people like James and John.
But if you look again you will also see the real church in action. You will see monks, priests, pastors, nuns, martyrs serving people. They feed the poor. They care for the sick. They establish the first hospitals. They reach out to lepers of every kind. They give themselves in service. They hear Jesus and they respond. They lay down their lives for others.
If only God had something less flawed than us to work through. But He doesn’t.
So some people become Bishop and forget to be Pastor. They push their power and stamp on the flock.
But others become Bishop and use the position for ever greater service.
Some people become Pastor’s and look to build a reputation, get a large salary, be a mover and shaker. While others become pastors and serve God and community.
Some become Christian and see themselves as better than everybody else . They look down on those not as holy as they are. Others become Christian and find opportunities to both share Jesus and to serve.
This morning I want to say to those who believe in Jesus please listen to Him. We are called to serve not be served.
To those of you who aren’t Christian please don’t judge us by the James and John of our history . Yes there are nasty people who name the name of Christ but all of us are not like them.
We struggle to be the servant Church. We really do.
Today at Last Lutheran the second service will be crowded. Today at that service Pastor Joan will baptize her son. Are waiting to discover what they have named him. Some are even betting on the name chosen. The majority think it will be Alexander. That’s a power name. Perhaps Alexander Tommy would be just right.
Old Mrs. Kangas is betting on Kevin. It is such a great name she gave it to her oldest son.
Herman is preaching and here is part of that sermon:
I am ignoring the main text today to talk about Baptism. There is nothing that we Lutherans do that shouts our theology like infant Baptism. We believe in salvation by grace through faith which is a gift of God.
The baby this morning brings nothing to the font. He has no good works to lift up , he has no carefully worked out creed. He can claim nothing.
But God through water and the word will create faith within the baby. God will save the baby by grace.
Other Christian groups denounce our Baptism because the baby can’t make a choice, because the baby doesn’t think right yet, because the baby hasn’t reached out and taken Jesus.
I understand that. There is a need to somehow make salvation something we do.
But here in Baptism of this baby we proclaim that God does it all. That the cross saves us. That faith is a gift.
Go home this morning and read what Luther says about Baptism in your small catechism.”
After the sermon Pastor Joan baptized the baby with these words:
Elijah Hoops Castle I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Today I should have just put up my wrap sign. I got up early and was in Church by 8:00. It was a great morning. The bell choir even played. In the afternoon I pulled together all the pictures I took in the morning and worked on the Church website. That took until 5:00 . Then I visited some blogs . Now I need a breathing treatment.