There once was a very rich and important king
Who was having dinner with several very special guests
And the very rich and important king set his crown next
At the very important place he was going to sit.
Now when the very special guests (you!) cam to the supper
They all decided it would be best
And they would become more important
More important than they had a right to be
If they sat closest to the king
Because if you sit close to the king
The king can do you favors
The king could make you a mayor
Or a banker
Or a judge
Somebody important like that.
So when the first special guest arrived
Guess where he/she decided to sit
That’s right..right here to the right of the king.
And when the next special guest arrived
Guess where he/she decided to sit
That right…right here to the left of the king
Because whoever sat closest to the king
Was in the best position to get favors form the king
Or better yet…if something ever happened to the king
Who might get to be king next.
The one sitting on his right or his left.
And then all the other special guests arrived
And they too all sat as close as they could
To the rich and important king.
And when all the special guests were sitting at the table,
The king finally came into the dining
And guess what he did?
He went over to the crown
Where everybody thought the rich and important king
was going to sit
He picked it up and set it in the middle of the table
Making a flower arrangement out of it.
And the towel on which the crown was sitting,
That rich and important king unfolded and draped over his arm
And he went to the very special guests at the end of the table
And he said, “May I take your order.”
When all of the sudden, the special guest finally realized
Just how rich and important the king really was.
The king was actually so rich with love
that he treated everyone as special
And served everyone because they were important.
Just like God does.
And God talked about living that way for many, many years…
How to love your neighbor as yourself…
How to serve your neighbor…
Until one day when he finally sent someone to live that way
From the day he was born…
Until the day he died…
And even after that…!
Someone who was willing to serve rather than be served.
Someone who was more concerned with what other people needed
Before his own needs
Someone who would be very happy to sit anywhere at the table
Next to any of the special guests.
And who do you think it is that lived that way
From the day he was born?
What happened to him because he lived that way?
For those of us who believe in him,
what’s the best way for us to follow him?
As each of you grows up
Never forget the way God shows you
To be come rich and important:
By serving God and others in all that you do.
(Thanks for helping me this morning.)
As we hear Jesus call to a eternal life
Through sacrifice and service,
I’m reminded again of the story about
The Hen and the Hog.
Supposedly, there once was a Hen and a Hog
Walking down the street one Sunday morning
When they overheard the pastor preaching a sermon
On the blessing of sacrifice.
Then they Hen hatched a big idea:
“If that lady is right,” the Hen said,
“why don’t we try a little sacrifice ourselves?
What do you say we head over to the downtown soup kitchen
And add a plate to their menu.
Let’s go down and satisfy some hunger
By offering them a plate of ham and eggs!”
But the Hog was quick to protest,
“I don’t think so…
because while that dish would only mean a contribution from you
for me it would mean a total commitment!”
And yet the blessing of total commitment
Is the topic of Jesus lesson today.
Perhaps we could even call it slavish commitment.
Now slavish can mean mindless imitation
Or it can refer to the institution of slavery
Such as we have known in our country
Only 150 years ago now
Or it can also mean unquestioning devotion
Obedient in service to another
And that’s the kind of slavish commitment
Jesus is talking about and inviting today.
Where James and John,
In their quest for the seats to the right and left of Jesus
And his glory,
Betray their interest in worldly power and prestige,
Jesus tells them (one more time)
That they have misunderstood the kind of glory
to which he aspires.
Where they confess their thirst for the very best life has to offer,
Jesus tells them they will share in the glory of his destiny, his cup
Filled with betrayal and suffering.
Where they confess their longing to be bound with him
In the kingdom he brings,
Jesus tells them they will be bound with him
Through the baptism by which he has been baptized
Even if it also turns out to be a baptism by fire.
For the kind of commitment to which Jesus aspires
And the Jesus calls blessed
Exchanges worldly glory for heavenly glory
Becomes prestigious glory to the degree that is humble glory.
Reveals the only lordly glory to be slavish glory…
Obedient to the command that we love and serve one another.
And having attained that kind of slavish glory
In love and obedience to God the Father,
So too will and James and John…and you…
As you follow him into service.
From a humble birth through a brutal and unjust death
Cradle to grave and beyond to resurrection
Jesus lived in slavish commitment to the God that invites
For all those who want a life of eternal riches and importance.
Jesus was obedient to the service of others
Never dominating in his dominion over all that
which God gave him charge
Tyrannical only for the mercy and justice of the oppressed
Rather than his own personal well-being
Until it got him killed.
Because the forces of real tyranny and domination
Never could and never will tolerate the light of truth
That shines wherever unconditional and mutual regard
Exists among people.
For the privilege of tyranny and domination can only be sustained
Where some people are underprivileged
Even though such privilege is temporary and false.
So the movement around Jesus
And those attracted by his slavish commitment
Had to be stopped.
And the temporary powers of tyranny and domination did him in
Until God raised him up again
To show his life of service and only his life of service to be eternal.
And Jesus wants James and John and you slavish followers
to know you can expect the same.
As some of the richest and most powerful people
the world has ever known, that most likely gives us pause
To consider the great opportunity we have to love and serve others
Rather that lord it over those who appear to have less
Especially when such appearances really are deceiving.
And when we need a little more inspiration to do so
Perhaps we can even take a look back
at the lives of that cloud of witnesses
which surrounds us so graciously –
those loved ones whose legacy reminds us
what is truly rich and important.
In several weeks on All Saints Sunday,
we’ll remember many of these witnesses by name.
We’d encourage you to share the names
Of your most inspiring witnesses
So that we can remember them by name too.
(Place them on the AGG card and place it in the offering plate)
The names of saints like Margaret Richter, Craig Larrimer,
Don Craven, Abigail Volpe, Mary Jane Mueller, Lynn Vogt,
Those parents and other loved ones you have lost in death.
While each achieved sainthood the only way any of us do
By Jesus’ great ransom for sinners like us.
Their passing gives us pause to reflect.
And in all that reflection, I have yet to hear
Anyone ever appreciate
…family member, friend, colleague, brother/sister in Christ…
I have yet to hear anyone appreciate
“…the way she always lorded it over me.”
“…the way he made me feel smaller than I ever was.”
No the lasting…rich and important legacy…is always
The way loved ones have served us
Making our own lives richer and more important
Than they would have otherwise been.
Death seems to have a way of bringing life into perspective…
So Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many.
What are you going to do with yours?